Getting help and support

Some people feel very alone when they have been diagnosed with advanced cancer. But you do not have to cope with worries and fears on your own. There are people and places that can give you:

Talk to your GP, or your specialist doctor or nurse at the hospital, for information about what is available in your area. You can also talk to one of our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00.

It can help to think about and write down any questions you want to ask before you see them. Take a notepad to write down notes during your appointment so you do not forget what was discussed. Your doctor or nurse at the hospital will do their best to answer your questions.

Help from family and friends

It can often help to talk about your situation with someone you trust. Try to think of a few key people you can talk openly with. This could be:

  • a partner
  • family members
  • your children, if they are older
  • close friends
  • colleagues
  • neighbours
  • people from a local carers’ or cancer support group.

We have more information about relationships and advanced cancer.

If you feel overwhelmed with jobs to do, try making a list of things you need help with. You could ask your family or friends whether they could help with things like:

You may find it hard to ask people for help. But you will probably find people are happy to have specific things they can do for you. Accepting any offers of help can help reduce stress and help you feel more in control.

Looking after yourself

You may want to make some changes to your lifestyle. This can include trying to eat a healthy, balanced diet. This can help some people maintain or regain their strength. If your appetite is poor, you can ask your GP to refer you to a dietician. They can suggest what might help build up your diet.

If you feel well enough, try doing some physical activity. It can improve symptoms such as:

You may not have been doing much physical activity because of treatment or symptoms. Start slowly and gradually increase the amount that you do.

Your doctor may suggest you avoid certain types of physical activity. For example, this could be if the cancer is in the bones or you have bone thinning. Ask your doctor or palliative care team for advice before you start.


Remember to take any medications exactly as your doctor, nurse or pharmacist has explained.

Keep an up-to-date list of your medicines at home. Take it with you to appointments and if you go to stay somewhere. Let any family, friends or carers know where the list is. If you become unwell, they can tell health professionals what medications you are currently taking.

If you live alone

Living alone can add extra stresses. You may value your independence, but being ill can make you feel lonely and frightened.

You may have people you can ask for help. They might be able to do practical things such as shopping or gardening. You could make a list of things that might help make your life easier. Some people may be better at listening. You could talk to them about any worries you might have.

If you do not have anyone to help you, tell your:

  • GP
  • social worker
  • district nurse
  • community nurse.

They can tell you what help and support is available in your area.