Cancer is not a single disease with a single type of treatment. There are more than 200 different types of cancer, each with its own name and treatment. This section provides an overview of what cancer is.
Carers Week 2015 - building carer friendly communities
Carer friendly communities are aware of the part played by unpaid carers within their community. They have some understanding of a carer's daily reality, that they can be under a lot of pressure, and are often hidden from view.
When a community is carer friendly, every corner – from the hospital, workplace, primary school, to leisure services and beyond – will be geared towards addressing the needs of carers. This means that if you're caring for someone unpaid, local services and systems will remove obstacles and make sure things are done differently so your life is a little bit easier.
'Doing things differently' could include an employer creating carer friendly policies by listening to the experiences of their workforce, or a GP practice offering alternative appointment times to carers unable to attend due to their caring responsibilities.
Carer friendly communities reach out to support carers where they can. Working together, Carers Week and all the partner organisations are committed to building communities like these.
Events will be taking place all around the country during Carers Week and will include everything from social activities, such as pub quizzes, picnics and pampering sessions, to expert and support events. There are loads of ways you can get involved. Find an event near you.
Free resources and support
For free promotional posters, a step-by-step guide to running an event and a range of free information resources, please visit our be.Macmillan site.
It was a fantastic opportunity for us to discuss the issues facing cancer carers and really highlight the need for greater identification and support.
Victoria Maclean, Macmillan’s Carers Support Project Officer, has first-hand experience of caring for her father, she said:
'With this experience, it meant that I could speak to MPs about the realities of looking after someone with cancer and I hope being able to put a voice to carers had a greater impact for them.'
Tuesday: NHS and Social Care
We attended the ‘Building Carers Friendly Communities’ event in Cardiff Bay, hosted by the Wales Carers Alliance. Carers supporting people with a range of needs shared their experiences with an audience of peers, policy makers, politicians and third sector support services. The event included speakers such as Professor Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services in Wales, who noted the vital contribution carers made within communities and stressed the importance of supporting them.
Gaynor Thomas, who cares for her husband, represented Macmillan and spoke openly for the first time about the realities of her experience. She gave insight into the challenges of providing personal care and the feelings of isolation she initially felt. Reflecting on the support she received from Macmillan, she said:
'Macmillan in Bridgend is my haven. They are my security blanket.'
Wednesday: Carers in the workplace
We were in Westminster again today for a roundtable event with our fellow Carers Week charities and new Minister of State, Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP. On the agenda were Alistair Burt’s comments on the Government’s early thoughts on carers, as well as discussions on:
the shared vision for Carer Friendly Communities
building a carer friendly NHS
the role of local government and employers.
Elsewhere, there were discussions in Scottish Parliament at Holyrood focussing on the importance of supporting carers of all ages, and raising awareness of their valuable role.
As a young adult carer in education, she talks about how caring has affected her life choices and the person she is now. Gabby writes, 'One of the best ways I think charities can help carers, is to spread an awareness of what it's like to be a carer.'
You can read Gabby’s blog here, and hear a group of young carers talk about the challenges of looking after someone with cancer at a young age and the importance of getting support at macmillan.org.uk/youngcarers.
Friday: Older carers
We visited St George’s Hall in Liverpool alongside a host of carers support organisations to talk to carers and celebrate their contribution to the community.
Macmillan’s services across the UK have been showing their support for carers all week. Our Mobile Information and Support buses have been out and about creating carer friendly communities on high streets across the UK, and our information centres have been welcoming carers to find out more about how we can support them.
Saturday: Carers and families
When Ian's wife Kate was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 30, it was a huge shock. And they were devastated when they found out it was incurable. Thankfully Kate's Macmillan nurse Vikki was there for them.
'You can't prepare for a cancer diagnosis. But the best people to support you are people who know what they're talking about - people like Macmillan.'
Reflecting on Carers Week 2015, Charlotte Argyle, carers Support Project Manager, said:
'Thanks to everyone who’s been involved in making this a successful Carers Week for Macmillan. From the colleagues and carers who influenced MPs at parliamentary events, to the professionals who held events to reach out to hidden carers, you have all made a real difference for cancer carers. Thank you to the carers themselves for all you do to look after those close to you with cancer. We hope you have had a good Carers Week, and please keep in touch with Macmillan to receive support all year round.'
Tell us what you’ve been doing by tweeting @MacCarers and @carersweek, where you’ll also find tweets raising awareness of the issues and support available around each theme.
If you look after someone with cancer, you may not think of yourself as a carer. You may say 'I'm just being their husband, partner, daughter or friend ...' Yet the support you provide is vital - from helping with shopping, dressing, or taking them to the hospital, to being there when they need to talk.
If this sounds like you, you're not alone. There are more than one million carers in the UK in a similar situation – people who look after someone with cancer who couldn't manage without that help. We understand how looking after someone with cancer can completely take over your life and we’re here to give you the support you need to feel more in control.
If you have any questions or would like to find out more about the support we offer to people looking after someone with cancer, see how we can help or call us on 0808 808 00 00. You can also visit one of our information and support centres to speak to someone face-to-face.
Looking after a loved one with cancer? This is a safe and supportive place to share your worries and emotions without worrying about upsetting members living with cancer. Please remember when posting that this group is for Carers only.
We make every effort to ensure that the information we provide is accurate and up-to-date but it should not be relied upon as a substitute for specialist professional advice tailored to your situation. So far as is permitted by law, Macmillan does not accept liability in relation to the use of any information contained in this publication or third party information or websites included or referred to in it.
Macmillan Cancer Support, registered charity in England and Wales (261017), Scotland (SC039907) and the Isle of Man (604). A company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales company number 2400969. Isle of Man company number 4694F. Registered office: 89 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7UQ.
For cancer support every step of the way, call Macmillan free on 0808 808 00 00 (Mon-Fri, 9am-8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk