Don't keep a 'stiff upper lip' about your health concerns

Friday 03 September 2021

When people describe their reasons for not going to the doctor it is quite common to hear phrases like ‘it is just a silly little twinge’, ‘I don’t want to be a bother’ or ‘the doctor is too busy to see me'.

Such a combination of self-effacing politeness and almost legendary stoicism could though have far-reaching consequences. 

Sometimes it feels as if many people in the UK don’t feel deserving of having their health concerns addressed or perhaps, think such vital services are for others ‘more deserving’.

And when combined with the huge NHS backlog caused by business as usual being disrupted by the pandemic, the simple fact is that people are risking their health by not going to the doctor when they have a concern.

Cancer in particular, as we know, is most survivable when caught early.

Our professional support

What many people don’t realise is that Maggie’s can help. Our expert staff can support people who are worried about a diagnosis just as we can when someone has one.

While we would never presume to make a diagnosis, even although many of our cancer support specialists have nursing backgrounds, what we can do is help people to find their voice.

To help them realise that it is ok to go to the doctor even if your concern seems trivial, that GPS are there for everyone, not ‘other people’ and that by stoically putting up with niggling pains, lumps and bumps isn’t actually helping anyone – least of all themselves. 

We help people to understand that they deserve to be taken care of just as much as anyone else. We make it ok to speak up for yourself. And making that initial appointment is only the first step.

If someone has a cancer diagnosis we help them to understand what that means.

We help manage emotions and cope with the physical effects of cancer and its treatment, but we also help to unpick meetings with consultants and help people develop a clear picture of what lies ahead.

How we can help

It is well known that people find it very difficult to absorb the information they have been given in their short meetings with consultants, especially if they have been given bad news.

I know of one centre visitor who, especially as she wasn’t allowed to take anyone to her consultations with her because of coronavirus, went straight from her medical consultations to Maggie’s to go through the full conversation with the staff there. Doing that helped her feel reassured, better informed and in control.

In one of our centres, family members sit with a member of Maggie's staff whilst on a zoom consultation, which is an amazing way of helping everyone understand what is happening.

But more than that, we help people to become active partners in their treatment. We believe everyone is entitled to ask questions, to voice an opinion and to even demand their particular set of circumstances is taken into account by the medical team.

We can help people to have the confidence to do this in a way that feels empowering. We help people to trust themselves to ask the right questions and, perhaps more importantly, get the answers to the questions that are really worrying them no matter how trivial their concerns may seem.

Here with you

When it comes to cancer, we are here with people at every point, wherever you are.

Call us on 0300 123 180, email us at or find a centre and just come in.

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