Big thank you from

Cancer experts at the end of the phone

Zoe Kabir, a cancer support specialist

Zoe Kabir, a cancer support specialist

CANCER is the toughest fight many of us will ever have to face in our lives. But if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, or is living with its long-term effects, Macmillan Cancer Support can help.

Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, Macmillan provides a wide range of services and professionals so people don't have to go through cancer alone. An important part of this support is a team of experts people can call for free.

One such expert is Zoe Kabir, a cancer support specialist who has worked on the Macmillan Support Line for just over two years.

Here, Zoe talks about the support she provides and other Macmillan experts she puts people in touch with.

As a cancer support specialist, I'm often the first person someone comes into contact with when they call Macmillan,' says Zoe.

'My job is to relax them, reassure them and get as much information from them as I can.

'Normally, as the call unravels, we identify their needs together. Once this happens, I then know how we can help them.

'For example, two months ago I received a call from a man who'd been diagnosed with bladder cancer. He said he was coping okay but wanted to know more about how the radiotherapy he was about to have might affect him. Talking to him, I also learnt he was self-employed and had no idea what support he could claim for, which is so often the case.

`So after that initial chat, I put him through to one of our information nurses to talk about some of his specific health questions.

'She then put him in touch with one of our benefits advisers to talk about money matters.

'Then, around three weeks later, I took a call from his wife.

As soon as she told me her husband's name I pulled up his information and could see the booklets they'd been sent and the benefits we'd helped them apply for.

'She was ringing about something her husband felt a bit embarrassed about. 'Since he'd started his radiotherapy he needed the toilet a lot more, and sometimes urgently.

'They'd be out shopping and he just needed to go.

'She'd heard that there were some schemes out there to help but didn't know any more than that.

'In no time we'd sorted out a Radar key for opening locked public toilets and helped them apply for a Just Can't Wait card, which you can use in shops to access staff toilets.

'It's 1hings like this, and the benefits advice, that can make the biggest difference.

'But that's what we're here for — to help people every step of the way.

Ulster Star