Asking for support

When you have identified the people who can help and support you, you can take the following steps:

  • Talk about day-to-day things if you want to, and when you want to. Having a serious illness doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to talk about anything else! Most people find it quite normal to talk about the minor aspects of everyday life as well as the major issues that they face – so you don’t need to feel limited.
  • If possible, try to decide which issues are most important to you, and are the things that you really want to talk about. Quite often you’ll find that it’s only two or three things that you really want to discuss – and that’s fine.
  • To introduce the topics that matter to you, it is helpful to signal to the person that you want to discuss issues related to your illness. You could say something like: ‘I want to talk about things that are quite difficult.’ This lets your listener know that what follows is something that really matters to you.
  • As you talk about the things that worry you, try to be specific. You may find it easier to take things in stages. You can start off talking about awkward subjects by saying something general, such as ‘I’m worried about how things are at the moment’ and then it is easier to go into particular areas – for example: ‘I’m not sure how long I’m going to be in hospital this time.’
  • If you have been worrying about something a lot, it is good to say so. ‘For the last few days, I’ve really been worrying about...’ etc. This lets the person listening to you know how important the issue is to you and they can focus on that.
  • When you are talking, it’s a good idea to check every now and then that the other person understands what you are saying. You can use any phrase you like to do that: ‘Do you see what I mean?’ or ‘Does that make sense to you?’ or ‘Do you understand?’
  • Towards the end of the conversation try to make sure that what you’ve said has been heard. If you have asked for some things to be done, it is worth summarising – for example: ‘So you’ll come with me to the appointment on Tuesday to discuss the treatment, and you’ll ask Dorothy to collect the children then.’
  • After you’ve covered the main topics, don’t feel embarrassed to go back to small talk. You don’t have to discuss serious issues all the time and just chatting about everyday things can also help you to feel that normal life still goes on.

Condition-specific information

Further information on conditions that may be affecting you or those around you:

Support Groups

Visit the NHS inform Support Services Directory to search for local organisations that may help with the issues you are facing:

Last updated: 29 March 2012

This content was supplied by Macmillan Cancer Support.