Steve Jordan asks, "Do you know what Macmillan Cancer Care does?"

Feb 25, 2016
Macmillan is one of the leading cancer support charities in the UK. You probably think you know what the charity does but, I suspect you don’t. Please read on.
Most people know that Macmillan helps people by providing palliative care for those with cancer.  But there is much more to it.  If I had known the scope of the organisation a few years ago, my life would have been made much easier. 

For the sufferers there are a whole range of services.  Palliative care we know about but it’s not just about helping people at the end of their lives.  Macmillan can also help with emotional support, can suggest exercise programmes to help sufferers regain strength after treatment, provide occupational health therapy to help build confidence during recovery and even provide help with speech and swallowing after surgery.

But Macmillan doesn’t only support patients, it supports families too.  Joy Ridley is Regional Communications Officer for Surrey, Kent and Sussex for Macmillan Cancer Support.  She confirmed that Macmillan is a source of support that helps with all the things that people affected by cancer want and need.  “It's not only patients who live with cancer, we also help carers, families and communities,” she said.  “ |We give so much more than medical help. People need practical support at home, so we provide anything from some precious time off for a carer to a lift to hospital. People need emotional support, so we listen, advise and share information through our cancer support specialists, website and trained professionals|. People need financial help to cope with the extra costs cancer can bring, so we give benefits advice, and grants for anything from heating bills to travel costs. Together we listen, we learn, we act to help people live with cancer.”

Now why am I writing about this?  It’s because cancer is something that can affect any of us at any time and, when it does, you don’t know what effect it will have on you.  I have direct experience.  My daughter was diagnosed with cancer when she was 20.  She was quite matter-of-fact about it, but I was destroyed.  One effect I remember vividly was uncontrollable shaking whenever the telephone rang.  Subconsciously, I imagined every call would be bad news. It was so bad I often couldn’t lift the receiver.  The shaking would last for up to an hour afterwards. A comforting cup of tea or even a large Scotch was no help: I couldn’t hold the glass.

Being a sensible sort of chap I went to my GP.  I said that I needed some preventative maintenance otherwise he was going to have a basket case on his hands.  He referred me to a psychiatrist.  In a series of six meetings, the psychiatrist delved into my early childhood to uncover the cause of my anxiety.  Stupid man! I knew the problem: my daughter was dying.

At the time I just felt that I needed some help to get through.  If I had known about the full range of services Macmillan provided I would have gone straight to them. I didn’t, so I just muddled through as best I could. I know that some of you reading this story now will be suffering in a similar way or will know someone who is.  There is help available. I wanted you to know.

The Macmillan ‘Online Community’ is available round the clock. Whether it’s early morning, in the afternoon, or the middle of the night, you can reach out and find others who are going through the same thing. Macmillan can also help you to find an appropriate, local support group where you will find a friendly expert ready to listen to you and help point you in the right direction.

For more information visit www.macmillan.org.uk

Macmillan Cancer Care
Photos: left: radiotherapy preparation; right: completing a grant application.