Family Support Service

Family Support Service

Talking about cancer is extremely hard. Especially when it’s to the people you love the most. So we’re helping parents with cancer talk to their family and support each other.

A cancer patient has many worries and fears. They are scared about what the future holds for them and, if they have children, how their family will cope. The emotional pressure is high and managing the everyday practicalities that a cancer diagnosis has on a family is an added stress. It can be really hard for a family to talk about this, especially when there’s so much going on.

The Family Support Service at The Royal Marsden was introduced to help families deal with these difficult conversations. The primary aim is to work with each family to show them how to support and listen to each other. Our service helps families to keep a focus on the strengths and positives and talk honestly about how overwhelming some difficulties can be.

Integrating the service with treatment

The Family Support Service is wholly funded by the charity. It is not an NHS service, but a reflection of The Royal Marsden’s commitment to supporting our patients. Because everyone is based at The Royal Marsden this service can be integrated into a patient’s treatment, so they have the added reassurance of being in an environment that they know well.

Our generous donors have enabled this unique service to exist every year since April 2009, so our patients have a place to come with their children and talk to a clinical psychologist about the challenges they are experiencing. They encourage all family members to ask questions, talk about problems, and explore ways of coping and sharing feelings.

Helen's story

"I want to say how much I have appreciated the help given to me by my clinical psychologist. A lot of my worries have been around issues to do with my children and how my diagnosis and treatment have affected them. She has offered a lot of support, been flexible, and allowed me to talk to her by phone. She has helped me understand what children of different ages are likely to be feeling and helped me to realise that some of my worries are just those of a normal mother of growing children not necessarily related to the cancer.

"I have realised the truth of the fact that cancer affects everyone related to the sufferer and indeed all the relationships. Many of my relationships have been strained by the issues raised by this frightening illness. My clinical psychologist has been a patient, flexible and wonderful support during the process so far. We haven’t spoken for a while – things have been relatively smooth with the kids but I keep psychological services in mind should I need help in the future.”

Helen, patient at The Royal Marsden

Your support

Supporters of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity fund the cost of this service.

Support The Royal Marsden and you’re investing in a future beyond cancer for you and everyone you know.

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“This unique service provides space and support for families so they can talk together and learn to cope with the on-going challenges and difficulties that being a parent with cancer can bring”
– Dr Sara Lister, Head of Pastoral Care and Psychological Support, The Royal Marsden