Philomena on the Macmillan Support Line

Philomena on the phone to the Macmillan Support Line. In her hands she holds a Macmillan leaflet about finances.
Philomena on the phone to the Macmillan Support Line. In her hands she holds a Macmillan leaflet about finances.

As a grandmother of six, Philomena hesitated to tell her family when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer because she didn’t want to worry them.
She called the Macmillan Support Line for advice and to vent her worries.

Philomena's story

All of a sudden, I find myself on basic statutory sick pay. I think it was only about £65 a week, which I thought ‘I’m going to have to give these people a call’ because I don’t want to be worrying and frightening the children or my friends.

I can’t remember the young man’s name from Macmillan, but he was my angel because he came on and just said, all this must be terrible for you, but we’re here for you and we’ll help you.

I must have been on the phone a couple of hours just spilling my guts, just letting it all out – and he was the best of a listener. In a sense, I would say cancer turned my world upside down. Macmillan turned it the right way up.

You can’t really talk the same way to your family and friends, because you love them so much you don’t want to burden them. They’re all with their families and get on with their jobs and you don’t want them worrying about their mum or their granny. So having Macmillan there is vital.

It’s just knowing that, on my down days, I could go and pick up the phone anytime. That they could direct me to these different places for aromatherapy and reflexology, and that information would come in the post.

Obviously the doctors and nurses have their role to play, but I would say the backbone of the support was Macmillan. Doctors and nurses can take you so far along the journey, but Macmillan takes you to the end of the road and they’re still holding your hand.

We all know Macmillan’s out there. But I think it’s not until you’re diagnosed with cancer yourself that it’s brought home to you the support they give and the work that they do.

To me, you lay your burden on Macmillan and they help you carry the burden. It could be a complete stranger on the end of the phone, but they instantly become a friend because they can sort of tap into how you’re feeling.

Macmillan’s there to help you carry the burden. And that leaves me free, because I’ve got it all off my chest now. It is a matter of getting it all off your chest and handing it over to them. Then you can put the phone down and get back to living your life.

Watch: Philomena's story

Watch: Philomena's story