Build A Cancer Support Dream Team

When you are diagnosed with cancer, your Oncologist seems to be the person with all the answers. But this is not the case. I learned during my cancer treatment that it was ME who had all the answers to my health questions; the Oncologist was dealing with the symptom of my problems – the cancer – but it was me who had to tackle everything else.

To combat all the different issues that I had, I needed a fighting force, a team to deliver the health outcomes I wanted. The best thing was I got to pick who was in it and decide when they were needed. Here are some members of my ‘Cancer Support Dream Team’:

Medical Team

My medical team were there to buy me more time and hold the cancer at bay. It included:

  • Oncology consultant
    Oncology consultant’s secretary
    Clinical nurse specialist
    District nurse
    Chemotherapy nurse
    All the above from a second hospital I attended for treatment.

To get the best out of my medical team, I prepared for appointments by writing down any questions – see 10 questions to ask your Oncologist blog post. I asked for copies of paperwork such as blood test or scan results. One thing I discovered is that nurses can be more accessible than doctors, so ask if they would mind you having their email address so you can contact them between appointments with any worries or concerns.

Cancer Buddy

Your cancer buddy can be anyone to help you through the treatment; for me, it was my partner, James. He is so calm and has such a cool head on his shoulders. But for you, it could be your husband, wife, sister, brother or friend — anyone who really gets you as a person and can support you emotionally.

My Dentist

Ok, why would the dentist be of any use? While undergoing treatment, I had a sore mouth from the chemotherapy, which caused inflammation. I increased my hygiene cleans to every three months, and I also had a wisdom tooth extracted due to the inflammation around the gum during chemotherapy. Taking action helped keep the symptoms manageable. The mouth is the beginning of the digestive system, so resolving any issues will positively impact your gut health, which also influences the immune system.


I was referred to a psychologist during my cancer treatment and had free sessions through Macmillan Cancer Support. It was great to talk through all of my fears and uncertainties around treatment but what I found most helpful was talking about and resolving emotional trauma that had impacted my life over several years. Talking is therapy; by telling someone else about your darkest moments, you slowly extract the stress from your body and encourage emotional healing. A psychologist is not in your daily life, so you can dump the emotional baggage on them and get on with your day!

Personal Trainer

I thought a personal trainer was just something for celebrities or the elite, but I decided to employ one after my surgery to help me recover, and now I have been going for over a year. She tailors the training sessions to my needs and keeps changing what we do so I don’t get bored. Having a personal trainer also makes me more accountable for my exercise, and it’s difficult not to turn up when someone is expecting you. Personal Trainers are costly, but making cuts in other places and having one session a week motivates me to do a class or some exercise at home. If you have cancer, it is time to make that change and spend some money on your health; invest in yourself!

Other cancer patients

Who better to talk to about what you are going through than other cancer patients? Ask your medical team if they know of any support groups, and if you are not the sort of person who usually goes to community groups, you may feel it is not for you. It took me six months to pluck up the courage to go to a bowel cancer support group. I was terrified of meeting someone just like me, a stage 4 cancer patient. When I first walked in, I was very nervous, but the members were so welcoming, and when we got talking and sharing our experiences, it felt like a weight had lifted. I even picked up some good tips about how to deal with what had happened to me. I still attend and stay in contact through social media.

So many people have helped me through cancer, all playing very different roles in my story. I hope this blog has inspired you to build your team and make them part of your cancer story.

Victoria Walsh

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Despite having the support of family, friends, and medical professionals, it’s normal to feel isolated and alone. 

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