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Resources and support

There are lots of organisations,  support groups and helpful books to help you cope with symptoms and side effects caused by cancer and its treatment.

Cancer Research UK information and support

Cancer Research UK is the largest cancer research organisation in the world outside the USA. We fund research on all aspects of cancer from its causes to prevention and treatment.

We are committed to producing high quality information for people affected by cancer. As well as looking at the information on this website you can call our nurse freephone helpline on 0808 800 4040. They are available from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Or you can send them a question online.

Cancer Chat is our online forum where you can share experiences.

General support and information organisations

The Medical Advisory Service provides a telephone helpline and online advice on all medical and healthcare matters.

Tel: 020 8994 9874 (6pm to 8pm weekdays Monday to Friday)

Email: office@medicaladvisoryservice.org.uk

For general health advice and information.

NHS 111 gives information if you need fast medical help but its not a 999 emergency. 

NHS Inform gives information about illnesses, treatments and NHS services for people in Scotland.

NHS Helpline: 0800 22 44 88 (Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 10.00pm and Saturday and Sunday, 9.00am to 5.00pm) - for details of pharmacies, GP practices and dentists in Scotland.

NHS 24 is a confidential telephone health advice and information service for people in Scotland. It provides urgent advice out of hours.

Phone: 111

Macmillan Cancer Support is a charity that gives practical, medical and financial support to people with cancer in the UK. Its helpline gives guidance on cancer and advice on benefits. It also publishes booklets about cancer and treatments. Information is available in other languages.

Freephone: 0808 808 00 00 (7 days a week, 8am to 8pm)
Contact email form

Organisations that provide equipment

You can borrow toileting aids or a wheelchair short term from The British Red Cross. This might be for free, or they may ask for a donation in your area.
There are many commercial companies that sell equipment online, via catalogues or in shops. Here are some tips when shopping around:

  • Ask an occupational therapist what they think might be best to meet your needs – your Nurse Specialist, district nurse or GP can refer you to an occupational therapist if you don’t have one
  • Compare prices between different companies
  • Check if you can return the item if it’s not exactly what you are looking for (this is usually if it is unused and in its original packaging)
  • Look for a number to call if you are unsure about how to safely fit or use the equipment 

The Disabled Living Foundation has an advice and information service on their website. This can help you when you’re looking for a specific piece of daily living equipment. They offer impartial advice and suggestions of equipment from reputable companies. You can also call them for advice.
 

Red Cross services vary in different parts of the country. They provide medical equipment, transport and hospital escort services, home emergency personal care and home respite care. There are branches throughout the UK.

Telephone: 0844 871 111

Email: information@redcross.org.uk

The Disabled Living Foundation gives information and advice on equipment and aids to help with daily living.

Helpline: 0300 999 0004 
Email: info@dlf.org.uk

Specific symptoms organisations

The Bladder and Bowel Community supports people living with bladder and bowel disorders and has a telephone helpline. The service is confidential. They can also give you information about stoma products.

They have a 'Just Can't Wait' card which allows holders access to toilets in shops and when you are out. It's free to order on the website.

Forward House
17 High Street
Henley-in-Arden
B95 5AA
General enquiries: 01926 357220
Email: help@bladderandbowel.org

This is a UK support group for people with a colostomy. It provides information and support, as well as booklets to anyone who has or is about to have a colostomy.

Enterprise House
95 London Street
Reading
Berkshire
RG1 4QA

Tel: 0118 939 1537
Free helpline: 0800 328 4257(24 hrs a day, 7 days a week)
Email: info@colostomyuk.org

A support group for anyone who suffers from chronic pain. They deliver self management training to help those with chronic pain.

Freephone: 0800 783 6059 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 4.30pm)
Email: info@painassociation.com

A charity that is being run entirely by volunteers. Provides support, advice and help in various ways to people affected by chronic pain and those close to them.

Telephone helpline (PainLine): 0345 603 1593
Email: aopisat@btinternet.com

Offers information and support to people with pain and those who care for them. They run a helpline staffed by volunteers and have an online forum called HealthUnlocked for members to share experiences. You can listen to podcasts which feature interviews with experts and people who are managing their pain. You can also subscribe to their magazine, Pain Matters.

Helpline: 0300 123 0789 (Monday: 2pm to 4pm and Friday: 10am-12pm & 2pm-4pm )
Email: help@painconcern.org.uk

This organisation provides information and support for people who need artificial feeding. They also have regional support groups for PINNT members.

PO Box 3126
Christchurch
Dorset
BH23 2XS

Telephone: 020 3004 6193
Email: comms@pinnt.com

Organisations that can help with issues of sex and sexuality

Offers private and confidential counselling, and psychosexual therapy to help with relationship problems. They provide counselling over the phone, through a webcam or face to face at a Relate centre. They also have live chat on their website.

Booking line: 0300 003 0396 (Monday-Thursday: 8am to 8pm,  Friday: 8am to 6pm, Saturday: 9am to 1pm)

College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT) provides information about what help and therapy is available for sexual difficulties.

Telephone: 020 8543 2707
Email: info@cosrt.org.uk

Books about cancer

A Ko, E Rosenbaum and M Dollinger
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2009
ISBN 9780740786310

The author and contributors of this book are all American cancer specialists. The book covers how cancer is diagnosed, treated and managed day to day.

J F Kelvin and L B Tyson
Jones and Bartlett Publishing, 2010
ISBN 978-0763777609

An American book which gives both doctor’s and patient’s views on coping with the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of treatment. It has information about treatment for pain, nausea, tiredness, and other symptoms.

SL Rose and RT Hara
Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2009
ISBN 0763762571

An American book which gives information about caring for someone with cancer, including how to support them when they have symptoms or side effects.

A Bloch and others
American Cancer Society, 2010
ISBN 978-0944235782

An American book but most of the information is relevant to the UK. It covers issues such as preventing weight loss and coping with dehydration, fatigue, and infection. It also discusses eating problems and digestion issues, such as swallowing problems, feeling sick and dealing with mouth sores. Focuses on survivorship and how to eat well after treatment.

M Williams and others
Guilford Press, 2007
ISBN 1593851286

An American book, but two of the authors are British researchers who are helping to promote mindfulness based cognitive therapy courses for people experiencing stress and depression in the UK. A CD of guided meditations is included with the book.

Jane Freeman
Sheldon Press, 2012
ISBN 9781847091413

Written by a cancer dietitian, this is a practical handbook for people with cancer. Filled with helpful tips and recipes.

Professor R Bor, Dr C Eriksen and C Stapelkamp
Sheldon Press, 2010
ISBN 978 1847090973

This book addresses the painful emotions linked with a cancer diagnosis. It covers areas such as coping with distressing thoughts, learning to relax, family relationships and coping with an advanced cancer.

Deborah Hutton
Short Books Ltd, 2010
ISBN 1906021566

Deborah Hutton wrote this from her own experience of cancer. She gives examples of ways in which family and friends can help including practical advice and ideas of what to say. It includes contributions from celebrities. 

Books and booklets about sex and cancer

Ian Banks
J H Haynes & Co Ltd, 2009
ISBN 1844258084

A practical guide to sexual health and enjoyment. 

S Kydd and D Rowett
Big Think Media, 2006
ISBN 0978810805

A responsible guide featuring personal stories and expert voices. Intimacy after Cancer takes an in-depth look at how women respond to, deal with, and overcome barriers to intimacy after a life-changing cancer diagnosis. 

Macmillan Cancer Support

This booklet offers information to young people about all aspects of sex and relationships and discusses the effects of cancer treatment on fertility. It also has coping strategies and options for fertility treatment in people whose fertility is affected. Available free to people affected by cancer from Macmillan Cancer Support by calling 0808 500 800.

If you would like to recommend a book

You can recommend a book that you have found helpful by using our feedback form. It helps us if you include the title, author, publisher's name and year, and the ISBN number.

Last reviewed: 
29 May 2020
Next review due: 
29 May 2023