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Many people are available to help you and your family.
Different people can offer support in the community. District nurses work closely with GPs and, if needed, they can make regular visits to patients and their families at home.
The hospital social worker can give you information about social services and other benefits you may be able to claim while you are ill. For example, you may be entitled to meals-on-wheels, a home helper or money to help with hospital transport fares. The social worker may also be able to help arrange childcare during and after treatment and, if necessary, help with the cost of childminders.
Some people need more than advice and support. You may find that the impact of cancer leads to depression, feelings of helplessness or anxiety. There is specialist help available to help you cope with these emotions. Often it’s easier to talk to someone who is not directly involved with your illness. You can ask your hospital consultant or GP to refer you to a counsellor who specialises in the emotional problems of people with cancer, and their relatives.
Our cancer support specialists| can tell you more about counselling and can let you know about services in your area.
Some hospitals have their own emotional support services, with specially trained staff. Nurses may have had training in counselling and can also give advice about practical problems. Some people find comfort in religion at this time and it may help them to talk to a local minister, hospital chaplain or other spiritual or religious adviser.
In many areas of the country there are also specialist nurses called palliative care nurses. They’re experienced in assessing and treating your symptoms and they can offer you support from when you’re diagnosed with cancer. They can also visit you at home and support you and your family.
Some palliative care nurses are linked to the local hospice. Your GP can usually arrange for you to be seen by a specialist nurse at home.
Palliative care nurses are sometimes referred to as Macmillan nurses. However many Macmillan professionals are nurses who have specialist knowledge about a particular type of cancer. You may see them when you’re at a clinic or in hospital.
Marie Curie nurses help to care for people who are having treatment to control their symptoms and want to stay in their own homes. They provide nursing care during the day and overnight. The district nurse usually decides whether to request a Marie Curie nurse.
Our section on caring for someone with advanced cancer| gives more information on services available to support you.
Content last reviewed: 1 September 2010
Next planned review: 2013
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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