Support for Family & Friends

When a loved one is diagnosed with bowel cancer, family and friends can struggle to know how to best help. Bowel cancer and the treatment can affect many different areas of daily life; help to manage those aspects, if and when required, can be invaluable.

How you can help your loved one

Just because someone has been diagnosed with cancer, that doesn’t mean they are incapable of carrying on with most aspects of their day-to-day lives. Keep communicating, and let your loved one know that you are there to help with whatever, whenever it’s needed. Dealing with practicalities is one thing you can offer to do. Why not start by getting together a list of sources of support available to cancer patients?

Remember to look after your own physical and mental health by reaching out to friends and family for support if you need it.

Help for carers

If you’re caring for someone who is having treatment for bowel cancer, there may be times when you feel overwhelmed. Follow the link for sources of help.

Support Services

Cancer and finances

For many people, a cancer diagnosis can put a lot of stress on day-to-day finances. If your loved one is worried about how they will cope financially, here are some answers to common questions and signposts to other sources of help and information.


What is statutory sick pay?

Basic statutory sick pay is now £109.40 a week* and is paid to workers who usually earn an average of at least £123 a week. It is paid for up to 28 weeks – which may sound like a lot at first, but your treatment could easily last longer. To claim, you need to give your employer a sicknote; you will probably get this from your GP or hospital doctor.

* March 2024

Is that all my employers are obliged to pay me?

Yes that is the amount they are obliged to pay but many companies will pay more so speak to your manager or HR department. If your company only pays the minimum amount, you may be entitled to other benefits.

Does my employer have to pay me when I take time off for hospital appointments and treatment?

Employers are not obliged to pay you for time off for appointments, but most will.

I am self-employed, what happens if I feel too ill to carry on working?

If you are self-employed, you won’t qualify for statutory sick pay but you may be able to claim Employment Support Allowance. If you are receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy you should qualify for the “support” rate, which is higher than the basic payment, at £129.50 a week. Some occupational charities will provide help and support for people who are self-employed and can show that they have been working in that particular occupation for a length of time.

Are there any other state benefits that can be claimed?

Depending on the physical impact of your cancer and the treatment you you might qualify for Personal Independence Payment (Pip), or Attendance Allowance if you are over state pension age. These claims all involve being assessed to see if you qualify; however, if your illness is terminal, you will not have to wait.

You may not qualify for these benefits at first, but if you are unable to work when your sick pay period comes to an end, you should check again. Some of them unlock extra help, such as free NHS wigs or surgical bras.

Apart from state benefits, are there any other sources of help?

It’s worth checking to see if any insurance policies you have also cover you for critical illness. Sometimes these will cover any lost earnings for a period of time. They might be defined as Critical Illness, Mortgage Payment Protection which will pay your mortgage interest for a period of time, or Income Protection Insurance.

Many trades and professions have occupational charities that may provide grants or support with extra costs for people who can no longer work because of illness. Likewise unions may be able to offer help with form-filling, information on benefits, or general advice about your employment rights if you have periods when you are unable to continue working.

Can we get help with prescription charges?

Cancer patients can get an NHS card that entitles them to free prescriptions. Ask your cancer nurse or GP for an FP92A form. This must be completed by a clinician involved in your treatment. You can only claim free prescriptions once you have received the card, don’t just tick the ‘free prescription’ box – you can be fined if the card hasn’t yet been issued.

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