When you have cancer it can touch every part of your life – physically, emotionally, practically. Often it’s the practical issues that take you by surprise.
It may be you need help at home. If you are unwell, you may not be able to manage household tasks like cleaning, cooking, caring for your children or walking the dog. Or it could be that getting around is an issue.
Often friends or family can pick up some of these practical issues for you, but not everyone has people close by that can help all the time. In this case, you may be eligible for support from your local authority or able to access a relevant local care service.
There are plenty of practical support services for cancer patients and carers listed on the Cancer Care Map and you can search for them by the Service Type. Options include: financial and welfare advice, legal advice and will writing, transport and travel, and practical help. You can also ask your local cancer information centre (usually based in or near your hospital) or your cancer care team to help you find the right people to speak to.
Here are some examples of the local and national support services that could be available to you, depending on your needs.
Whether it’s local transport to appointments or to the shops, or insurance for travel further afield, a cancer diagnosis can bring a number of logistical issues. .
If you drive, but your mobility is limited, you may be entitled to a Blue Badge for disabled parking. Talk to your local authority about applying.
If you don’t drive, you may be eligible for help with the cost of travel to hospital for your treatment – talk to your hospital team. It’s also worth having a look to see if there is a specialised transport service near you that can help you with getting to and from appointments.
For example, Driving Miss Daisy offers a driving and companion service across the UK for people who need help to get around and will even accompany patients to their appointments if they would like. There are also local charities in some areas that offer transport services specifically for cancer patients, such as Daft as a Brush in the North East. And for those wishing to get away from it all and struggling to get travel insurance cover, organisations such as that provided by Live Better With, in partnership with International Travel and Healthcare Limited (ITHC).
Work and benefits advice
Some people choose to continue working through their cancer treatment. Others take some time off, or extended leave. Either way, you and anyone caring for you may be able to claim some benefits during your illness. Whether or not you are working, welfare advisers can found at cancer information centres and are there help you understand what benefits you are entitled to and help you with your employment rights. Macmillan have some great online resources too. For people wanting a career change or help getting back to work after a prolonged period, there are advice and coaching services available to help people get back on track. Working with Cancer is one such helpful resource.
End of life planning
If you or someone close to you is nearing the end of life, this will be a difficult time. End-of-life planning is available to guide you through the practical tasks and help you make decisions. For support in managing financial affairs or organising a funeral, legal advisers and end-of-life planning services, such as those provided by hospices like Marie Curie, can guide you through the process.
Finding the right help at the right time can be overwhelming, but help really is out there. Cancer Care Map aims to help people find the help they need, by creating an up to date directory of services across the country. So do let us know if you find a helpful service that we don’t know about and we’ll add to the map.