You might need emotional, spiritual, practical or financial support when you have cancer. These people, organisations and benefits can help.
Counselling and support
You might want to talk about your worries to someone who will listen to you, but who has no connection to your illness.
Counselling can help you to talk through your situation and find ways of coping.
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.
Some people find great comfort in religion. You might find it helpful to talk to:
- a local minister
- a hospital chaplain
- a religious leader of your faith
There are many other people who can help:
- specialist cancer nurses in hospitals
- 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
- 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 (for example, hospital fares)
- 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.
Help with feeling depressed
Some people need more than advice and support. Finding out that you have cancer can lead to you:
- feeling depressed
- feeling helpless and worried
Ask your hospital consultant, GP or specialist nurse if you think you need help. They might be able to help you with these feelings or will refer you on to somebody who can.
In hospital there are specially trained staff who will listen and advise you if you're worried. Some hospitals can help you cope with these feelings with specialist help from psychological support teams.
Sick pay and benefits
This is a short summary of financial support for people with cancer.
Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
Employment and Support Allowance gives you money if you can't work or helps you 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. They might send you for a medical assessment if they need more information. They won’t expect you to prepare for work if you have an illness or disability that would make working very difficult. But you might still need 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.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Your employer can pay you Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks if you’re employed and unable to work. After this time, your employer should give you an SSP1 form to claim ESA.
Get advice about possible benefits from your local Citizens Advice and also from your local Department of Work and Pensions Office. Their addresses and phone numbers are on the internet or in your local phone book.
Benefits for people with cancer
You can get benefits (money from the government) if you need help with personal care such as washing and dressing. Your income and savings don’t affect you getting these benefits.
The assessment for these benefits covers many daily activities. So it’s 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 at least 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 Citizens Advice.
You may qualify for:
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Attendance Allowance
- Carer's Allowance
You can find detailed information about state benefits and charitable grants that you may be entitled to in our financial support section. Charitable grants can help with one off expenses, such as heating bills, holidays, medical expenses and many other costs.
Many charities offer grants that can help with one-off or ongoing costs caused by cancer.