Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer: sources of support

The women we interviewed had found support from their families, friends and work colleagues, the health professionals caring for them, local and national cancer organisations and support groups, their spiritual faith, a counsellor and from other patients. We examine here both good experiences and others where for some reason women had difficulty getting the support they felt they needed.

Most women said the support they had received from their family, friends and work colleagues had made an enormous difference to them. Many felt it had enabled them to cope with their illness and had led them to value these relationships more. A few mentioned that sometimes this support had been overwhelming or difficult to adjust to or they had found it difficult talking to family members about their concerns.

Quite often women found that they were the ones supporting their family members because they were worried about them and wanted to protect them. Others felt they did not need support and preferred to deal with their illness on their own.

Despite being surrounded by support from family and friends, several women described feeling very alone. Some women had contacted national cancer organisations and found it helpful to talk to trained nurses about concerns which they did not feel able to share with family or friends.

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Several women had not contacted a support group or organisation because either they were not aware of them or felt they did not need this type of support. Others had contacted these organisations for information leaflets which they had found helpful. A few had contacted national organisations for support on the side effects of their treatments (see our Resources section).

Finding the right source of information and support can sometimes be difficult. One young woman who found it difficult to talk to her boyfriend was helped by talking to an older woman who had been 20 when she developed cervical cancer and to others in a support group where she felt able to share her experiences. Another found the Samaritans supportive. A third explains why she had found her local Oncology Centre very helpful.

Several found that talking to other women who had a gynaecological cancer had helped them to realise that their feelings or concerns were not unusual. These women explained how the friendships they developed with other women who had cervical cancer had made an enormous difference to them.

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Health professionals not only provide medical care but have a role in the emotional support of their patients. Acts of kindness or understanding shown by doctors or nurses made a considerable difference to many women. In comparison one woman who had not received any immediate emotional support after her diagnosis explains how she felt very unsupported and alone.

A few women found the support given by the Macmillan nurses invaluable. Others felt they needed information rather than emotional support. One woman who had been involved in a clinical trial explained that the opportunity to chat with the research nurse had been of great benefit.

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Last reviewed July 2017.

Last updated March 2010.


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