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Who can help

Coping with cancer

This page tells you about who can help you when you have cancer. There is information about


Counselling and support

You may want to talk to someone who will listen to you about your worries, but who is nothing to do with your illness.

The cancer information services listed in the general cancer organisations can tell you more about


Spiritual support

Some people find great comfort in religion and it may help to talk to

  • A local minister
  • A hospital chaplain
  • A religious leader of your faith

Health professionals

There are many other people who can help

  • Specialist cancer nurses in hospitals
  • District Nurses visit patients and their families at home
  • Macmillan or Marie Curie nurses look after people with cancer at home
  • Social workers
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Dieticians

If you think you need more support, talk to your GP about who may be able to help. Sometimes hospitals can give you special advice through specialist nurses. In hospital there are specially trained staff who will listen and advise you if you are worried.

Social workers can help in many ways and give you information about

  • Social services (for example, meals on wheels, a home help)
  • Any other benefits you may be able to claim while you are ill (for example, hospital fares)
  • Child care during and after treatment, including arranging help with the cost if necessary

You can arrange contact with a social worker yourself by contacting your local social services office or the hospital, or your GP can do it for you.

Some people need more than advice and support. Finding out that you have cancer can lead to you

Some hospitals offer specialist help from psychological support teams in coping with these feelings. If you need help, ask your hospital consultant, GP or specialist nurse. Your GP may be able to help you with these feelings or will refer you on to somebody who can.


Sick pay and benefits

This is a short summary of financial support for people with cancer. There is more detailed information in the financial support section.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) has replaced Incapacity Benefit. It gives you money if you can't work, and help to work if you are able to. You can claim if you are employed, self-employed, unemployed or a student on Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

When you first claim, you have a work capability assessment. You complete a questionnaire about how your illness or disability affects you day to day. Your doctor may be asked for a medical report. A health professional considers these and may send you for a medical assessment if they need more information. If you have an illness or disability that severely affects your ability to work, you will not be expected to prepare for work, but may still need to have a medical assessment.

If you qualify for ESA, you will be put into 1 of 2 groups. The Work Related Activity Group is for people who are thought able to work with the right support. You go to monthly meetings with an adviser. The Support Group is for people who cannot work at all due to their illness or disability. How much ESA you get depends on different factors including your income, and the type of ESA you qualify for.

If you are employed and unable to work, your employer can pay you Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks. After this time, your employer should give you an SSP1 form to claim ESA.

You can get advice about benefits you may be entitled to from your local Citizens' Advice Bureau and also your local Department of Work and Pensions Office. Their addresses and telephone numbers are on the internet or in your local phone book.


Benefits for people with cancer

There are benefits (money from the government) available for people who need help with personal care such as washing and dressing. Your income and savings are not taken into account for these benefits. The assessment for these benefits covers many daily activities so it is worth looking into this if you need any help at all at home.

To get these benefits you usually have to have needed help for a minimum of 3 to 6 months (depending on the benefit). But if you have an advanced cancer, you can make a fast track claim which will get you the money much sooner. You can ask your specialist nurse or social worker for advice. Or you could contact the local Department of Work and Pensions office (Jobcentre Plus) or the Citizens Advice Bureau. You may qualify for

Go to the financial support section for detailed information about state benefits and charitable grants that you may be entitled to. 

Charitable grants can help with one off expenses, such as heating bills, holidays, medical expenses and many other costs.

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Updated: 23 October 2014