Groups and organisations

Talking about cancer can be difficult. Even with caring friends and family, sometimes it’s easier to share your experience with someone you don’t know. If you feel this way, there are groups, organisations and healthcare professionals that can help you. These include:

  • Telephone helpline services – such as our cancer support line.
  • Trained counsellors, who can help you find ways to cope with your feelings. Your GP may be able to refer you.
  • Support groups led by people with cancer. Other members may understand what you’re going through or give you a new perspective.
  • Online support groups or chat rooms. You can stay anonymous and chat instantly to other people affected by cancer. Visit our online community.

Our cancer support specialists on 0800 808 00 00 can help you find out what’s available in your area.

Who can you talk to?

Think about who you usually talk with about important issues or difficult problems. This is probably the best person to talk with. They could be anyone – your partner, your closest friend, a family member, a work colleague, a counsellor or a religious leader. It may be somebody who is going through or been through a similar experience.

Family, friends and people you work with

Some people have a close circle of family and friends who can give them a lot of support. Or close relationships with people they work with. But even with supportive people around you, it may be hard to talk about cancer. You may feel isolated.

We have tips on telling family and friends about your diagnosis and asking for support.

Some 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. If you are in this situation, you may feel there is no one for you to talk to.

It may be easier to talk with someone you don’t know. You may feel less pressure to act a certain way. You may also feel safe knowing that they will not share the conversation with your friends or family. If you feel this way, you could:

  • call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00
  • join a support group
  • have a talking therapy
  • get support online, for example by joining our Online Community.

Cancer support helplines

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. You can contact our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00 for support and more information about other specialist helpline services.

Counselling for people with cancer

It can sometimes help to talk to a counsellor, especially if you feel very low and depressed. 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. You may need to pay for counselling. 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.

Support groups

Most areas of the UK have cancer support groups for carers. These are usually led by people caring for someone with cancer, sometimes with support from a healthcare professional. Other members of the group may be in a similar position to you. It’s quite usual for a group to include 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 let you know about support groups in your area. You can also search for them here.

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 your style, don’t worry.

Online support for people with cancer

If you’re an internet user, you may want to join an online support group. 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 forums, blog your experiences, make friends and join support groups. You can share your own thoughts and feelings, and get support from others.

Macmillan's Online Community

Macmillan's Online Community

Macmillan's Online Community is a place for people affected by cancer to come together, share stories, find information and support each other.

Join Macmillan's Online Community

Macmillan's Online Community

Macmillan's Online Community is a place for people affected by cancer to come together, share stories, find information and support each other.

Join Macmillan's Online Community

Back to Who should I talk to?

Your partner

Discussing concerns with your partner can help you feel supported. Allow yourselves time and privacy.

Healthcare staff

There are ways to get all the information and support you need from healthcare staff.

Benefits of talking

Talking about your cancer can help you make decisions and feel less anxious.