The best person to talk to is probably whoever you usually talk to about important issues or difficult problems. This could be anyone – your partner, your closest friend, a member of your family, a work colleague, a counsellor or a religious leader. It may be somebody who is going through a similar experience.
Family, friends and colleagues
Some people have a close circle of family and friends who can give them a lot of support. Or close relationships with work colleagues.
But even with a supportive circle of people around you, it can be difficult to talk about cancer. You may feel isolated and that only people who’ve had cancer can understand how you’re feeling. Sometimes, people find it easier to speak to someone they don’t know.
Other people may have disagreements in their family or have friends that live far away. They may work alone or not get along with people they work with. In this case, you may feel there is no one for you to talk to.
Whatever your situation, there are a number of groups, organisations and healthcare professionals that can help you.
You may find it helpful to contact an organisation that runs a telephone helpline service for people with cancer. These helpline services are often run by healthcare professionals.
Macmillan Support Line
You can contact the Macmillan Support Line, Monday–Friday, 9am–8pm. You can call to talk about a cancer diagnosis, to discuss money worries, for advice about work or simply for someone to listen to you talk. Our team includes:
- cancer information support officers – they can answer your questions about cancer or treatment, or be someone to chat to
- welfare rights advisors – they can give advice on claiming benefits
- financial guides – they can give you guidance on financial matters including mortgages, pensions, insurance and savings.
Other support lines
If you need emotional support when our phone service is closed, you can contact the Samaritans. They offer 24-hour emotional support for anyone experiencing feelings of distress or despair. The service is confidential and non-judgemental.
You can call Samaritans on 0845 790 9090 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
It can sometimes help to talk to a counsellor, especially if you feel very low. Counsellors are trained to listen and help people talk through their problems.
They won’t give advice or answers, but will help you find your own answers. Talking one-to-one with a trained counsellor can help you sort out your feelings and find ways of coping with them. This can be very helpful, particularly if you aren’t able to discuss your feelings and emotions with people close to you. Some people find it easier to talk to people who aren’t involved with them or their care.
GP practices and hospitals often have their own counsellors or can refer you to one. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy can also give you details of counsellors in your area.
Most areas of the UK have cancer support groups. These are usually led by people with cancer, sometimes with support from a healthcare professional. Other members of the group may be in a similar position to you. A group usually includes people with different types and stages of cancer. You may find this wider experience helps you see your own problems from a different perspective.
Our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00 can tell you about support groups in your area or you can find them on our website.
Some people find groups very helpful and form close relationships with other members. However, others get embarrassed or uncomfortable when talking about personal issues with strangers. If groups aren’t for you, don’t worry.
If you use the internet, you may want to join an online support group or chat room. There are a number of these groups and some are aimed at particular types of cancer, while others are more general. They’re easy to join and you can ‘talk’ to other people in real time. If you prefer, you can stay anonymous and just read other people’s emails or posts. These messages can be both uplifting and sad.
This can be very helpful, as you can find that other people have similar thoughts, emotions and experiences. It can make you feel less alone, and help you learn how to cope with your treatment and live with cancer. Online groups are easy to leave, without any need for personal contact or explanations.
Our online community lets you talk to people in our chat rooms, blog your experiences, make friends and join support groups. You can share your own thoughts and feelings, and get support from others.