Whether you are a patient, relative or friend, a cancer diagnosis may bring a range of strong emotions such as fear, anger, anxiety, sadness or grief. We are all different and there is no right or wrong way to feel. Emotions are very personal and can be difficult to talk about, particularly with the people for whom we care most.
You are not alone. There are many people who are able to help and positive things that you can do to help yourself feel better. Making time to do things you enjoy, however small, can make a big difference to the way you feel.
In this section we provide information about sources of help and support, with a particular focus on what is available in North Wales.
Your Healthcare Team
Self Help and Support Groups
Your Healthcare Team
You should always feel able to talk to a member of your healthcare team about the way you are feeling – this may be your hospital doctor, nurse or GP. Good cancer care is about looking after the whole person, not just treating the illness. Feelings of anxiety can sometimes arise from lack of information or uncertainty about what is going to happen. Your healthcare team may be able to help with your concerns or signpost you to other sources of support such as another health professional, counsellor or social worker.
It can be helpful to prepare for an appointment with your doctor or nurse by writing down a list of questions or concerns you would like to share.
You may like to look at our ‘tips for talking to your doctor or nurse’.
If you find it difficult to talk to your doctor or nurse you might prefer to visit your nearest Macmillan Information and Support Centre. The Information Co-ordinators offer confidential face to face support and are able to help with a wide range of concerns (it may be advisable to phone before-hand to arrange an appointment).
The Health Board’s chaplaincy team should also be seen as a valuable source of emotional support and are always happy to meet with people who may have no specific beliefs or faith as well as those who may call themselves religious. Details about the chaplaincy team can be found in our section on Spiritual Well Being.
Cancer Psychology Service
Cancer health professionals in North Wales work closely with a cancer psychology team which specialises in supporting people who are experiencing difficulties in coping with anxiety. Talking through these anxieties can help someone understand their feelings and explore ways to reduce their stress. A doctor / nurse will be able to arrange a referral to the psychology team. If you think this might be helpful for you, please talk to a member of your healthcare team.
Many people get support by talking to close family members and friends but sometimes it is useful to talk to someone who has been trained to listen and who will help you explore your feelings. A counsellor will not give advice but will help you find your own solutions.
One to One Counselling
If you think you might benefit from talking to a counsellor, your healthcare team may be able to help you find a professionally trained counsellor in your area. Some GP practices have their own counsellors.
There are national organisations whose websites will tell you more about counselling and have search facilities to help you find a qualified counsellor:
Complementary therapies can be a very positive way of coping with stress and anxiety. Many therapies are themselves relaxing and enjoyable and can help to lift your spirits if you are feeling low. Complementary practitioners are often trained in counselling and listening skills and combine these with bodywork, relaxation techniques and lifestyle discussions.
It may be advisable to mention to a member of your healthcare team if you are thinking of using complementary therapies alongside your conventional treatment.
For more information please refer to our section on complementary therapies.
Self Help and Support Groups
Self help and support groups vary widely, but they generally offer a valuable opportunity to meet and talk to others who may have been through a similar experience. Our section on ‘Support Groups’ provides a directory of organisations in North Wales.
Some of these local groups offer telephone support, enabling recently diagnosed patients to talk to someone who has been through a similar treatment. For some people this can be a valuable way of easing anxiety associated with the uncertainty of what lies ahead and can be particularly helpful if you find it difficult to meet face to face with a Group of strangers.
Groups offering telephone support in North Wales include:
Treasure Chest Breast Cancer Support Group
Mai Solomon: 01745 590850 (10am-7pm)
North Wales Prostate Cancer Support Group
David Maitland-Price: 01745 344131
GUTSY (Oesophageal and Gastric Cancers)
A help line for direct contact with former patients is available at all times.
Freephone: 0800 707 6907 for direct contact with patient volunteers
Befriending schemes, in addition to providing practical help, can represent a valuable source of emotional support particularly for people who are living alone. Volunteers offer companionship and can provide information about other local support.
Details for schemes in North Wales can be found by clicking on the links below:
Macmillan Cancer Support produces an excellent booklet, ‘How are you feeling?’, which can be downloaded or ordered free of charge from the website. The booklet discusses some of the common feelings that people affected by cancer may have (patients, relatives and friends) and looks at what may help.
There are many voluntary organisations offering support and information to cancer patients, their family and friends. Some have dedicated telephone help line services which enable you to talk to a healthcare professional who is experienced in listening to and supporting people affected by cancer. These include:
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just someone to talk to, call free, Monday to Friday 9am-8pm (interpretation service available).
Tel: 0808 808 00 00
The Freephone Cancer Support Line is a free and confidential service, staffed by experienced nurses and trained volunteers. Open 8am until 8pm, 7 days per week.
Tel: 0808 808 1010
You can call information nurses with any questions about cancer. The service is open from 9am till 5pm Monday to Friday. To talk in your preferred language, you can request an interpreting service.
Tel: 0808 800 4040
For information about other National organisations, online communities and telephone help lines, including those dedicated to supporting people with specific types of cancer, please go to our National Support section.