Who can help?

You might need emotional, spiritual, practical or financial support when you have cancer. There are people, organisations and benefits available that can help.

Emotional support

Finding out that you have cancer can lead to you feeling helpless and worried. Sometimes it can make you feel depressed.

It might help to let friends and family know how you feel. They may also worry about your cancer and its treatment. Talking to them can be difficult. But if they know how you feel, they can listen and support you.

It might help to share your experiences with others who are going through the same thing. This could be other patients at your hospital, support groups or online forums for people with cancer.

Your healthcare team understand that having cancer can be frightening. Talk to your hospital consultant, GP or specialist nurse if you are worried and ask all the questions you need to. It will help them to know what concerns you have. They can refer you to other services if you need them.

Some hospitals have specialist psychological teams to help you find ways to cope. Or it may be possible for you to see a trained counsellor. They can help you explore difficult feelings and emotions and help you work out possible solutions.

Spiritual support

Some people find great comfort and spiritual support in a faith. Your hospital might have spiritual care advisors from different faiths that you can talk to. Or you could talk to a local minister or a religious leader that you know from your own faith.

Your spiritual leader may visit you at home or arrange for someone from your community to visit you. 

Practical support

Having cancer can touch every part of your life. Your treatment and its side effects mean that you might need some practical care and support. There are lots of people who can help:

  • specialist cancer nurses in hospitals
  • community or district nurses, who visit patients and their families at home
  • Macmillan or Marie Curie nurses, who look after people with cancer at home
  • occupational therapists, who help people with any sort of disability to manage everyday activities such as dressing or cooking when they are at home
  • physiotherapists
  • dietitians
  • social workers

Social workers can help in many ways. They can also give you information about:

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

To find a social worker yourself, contact your local social services office or the hospital. Or your GP can do it for you.

Financial support

Your ability to work might change and you may need some financial support for you and your family. The financial support that is available depends on your personal circumstances.

You may be able to get support if:

  • you are unable to work
  • you have a disability
  • you have children

You may also be able to get financial support with household costs and health costs

Charity grants

Many charities offer grants that can help with one-off or ongoing costs caused by cancer. 

Local support groups and helpful organisations

Joining a support group or contacting organisations in your area can put you in touch with people who know what you are going through.

There are different types of support groups. Some are run by professionals and others by patients.  Some support groups are for people with one type of tumour. Family members can sometimes attend a group meeting with you. Cancer charities and organisations also offer information and emotional support. You can often get support from them over the telephone if you find it difficult to go to them.

Last reviewed: 
29 Jun 2021
Next review due: 
28 Jun 2024
  • Emotional spport for cancer patients;what do patients really want

    M Slevin M and others

    British Journal of Cancer 1996 Volume 74 Pages 1275-1279

  • What do cancer support groups provide which other supportive relationships do not? The experience of peer support groups for people with cancer

    Ussher S and others

    Social Science & Medicine 2006 Volume 62 Pages 2565–2576

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