Combating worry now, and knowing where to find support if you need it
Most of us will have seen recently-released figures about the rising incidence of cancer. It almost seems like a contradiction, but as life expectancy increases, more of us will live to an age when they’re statistically more likely to suffer from our most-feared disease. Cancer Research UK tells us that 1 in 2 people born after 1960 in our country will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime.
Of course, no-one wants to think about ‘what ifs’ such as this. But there’s a strong argument that the best way to combat worry is to do what you can to take some of the sting out of the things you’re worried about.
Any diagnosis of cancer is bound to be met with understandable concern about the future. Thankfully, advances are being made in research and treatments are becoming more effective. But, however good the medical care may be, most people suffering from cancer will welcome all the support they can get.
There are some worries you can beat right now
Thinking about practical matters never comes easy at times when you already have a lot on your mind, which is why you should consider putting the right kind of support in place, should you ever need it. It can be helpful to feel that you’ve taken steps to deal with the concerns you can most easily do something about, rather than worrying too much about issues which are harder to control.
One example of this is something as simple as travelling to and from the hospital. As well as working out the practicalities of how you’d get there, there are expenses to consider – and relatively small sums such as car parking or public transport fares can easily add up if treatment is extended over a period of time. Then there’s the potentially bigger issue of the effect on your earnings if you had to take a lot of time off work.
In all of this, the key is to do just enough thinking ahead to take what action you can, then just get on with your life. Insurance is one area worth considering. It could provide some help with financial matters, as well as giving you access to further support including dedicated helplines.
Know where you could find support
It’s also a good idea to think about where you could find support with the practical and emotional aspects of a cancer diagnosis:
Macmillan Cancer Support is a good place to start. As well as offering practical help on issues such as money worries and advice about work, an important part of the charity’s work is simply to provide a sympathetic and helpful ear – they recognise that it can sometimes be easier to share experiences with someone you don’t know.
Through Macmillan’s website you can call telephone helpline services, find support groups in your area or join online chatrooms and find out how to access trained counsellors.
You can also find out about the support provided by Macmillan nurses – specialists who can assess specific needs and help people to understand their treatment options. Macmillan also gives out clearly-written information about what to expect following a diagnosis. It’s not always easy to take everything in when you’re in a stressful situation, so this can be an invaluable addition to the information given by medical staff.
As well as explaining more about medical care, the NHS site is a good place to find details on accessing social care services. These services might mean help with housework or meals, or having your home assessed by an occupational therapist to see if you could benefit from any adaptations during your treatment.
Your local authority is responsible for social care services, and if your illness means you need some additional care or support they may pay for some or all of it. This would depend on the results of an assessment of your needs and finances.
The NHS website can help you with contact details for your local council.
Another way in which the NHS site can be helpful is in offering advice on sensitive issues such as coping with the initial shock of a diagnosis and talking to children about cancer.
Carers Trust aims to support people who provide unpaid care for friends or family members suffering from illness. Their website includes information on care attendants who may be able to offer respite by taking over a carer’s responsibilities for a while.
Financial worry is the last thing anyone needs when they’re concentrating on their health. As we’ve seen, people who have been diagnosed with cancer can sometimes face additional expenses, or may see their income go down if they need to take time off work. This is why it’s important to look into any benefits you may be entitled to receive, as well as knowing what your rights are concerning time off work.
The government’s gov.uk site is the place to find details on benefits for carers and people with disabilities. You can also find out about taking sick leave from work, including details on Statutory Sick Pay.