The group is my toolbelt – Earl on creating a kit to help manage living with cancer

Friday 28 January 2022

Maggie's Nottingham

When you’ve got cancer, there are questions, concerns, areas of your life that you often need help in addressing. Over time, I began to notice four similar themes, but with my personal approach, I made it five.

I think of it like a toolbelt. It’s not a toolbox, because they’re too big and cumbersome, always sat at the back of the garage and taking ages to get to. It’s a toolbelt because it’s there, close at hand.

Once you live with cancer, you need immediate answers to all sorts of things, like the technical side of cancer and what it does, the treatment I can get and how that works.

You need to know about things that work that can help me with my wellbeing, because I may not always feel strong or well on a particular day, and an immediate answer can lift my spirits.

In my personal toolbelt, there are five areas:

  1. The technical side about cancer – what does cancer do, what is it, how does it affect the body?
  2. Administration – how cancer is treated? Where do you go for support? Who do you see? What machines do they use? Those kinds of things.
  3. Wellbeing – which is about your emotional state. How you feel? Such aspsychological support
  4. Practical living – making wills or doing sport, What things can I do? How can I live?
  5. Spiritual – this is personal to me. I’m a Christian, so, having faith in God, prayer, and holding the values that Christianity provides is very important to me.

The way I see it, between Maggie’s staff, the Men’s Group and the NHS, I’ve got my toolbelt covered.

Nearly all the answers I need (except the spiritual one’s that Bible and church helps me with) are there within the group.


In my experience, the Cancer Support Specialists and members of the Men’s Group can answer so many of these questions because they’ve either gone through the experience of being affected by cancer themselves in some way, or have years of experience in treating it. I think between the staff at the Nottingham centre they have over 100 years of experience treating cancer.


That’s where the NHS are in a league of their own. The treatment I have undergone has been exemplary.


The Men’s Group are experts in this, and we’re able to help each other in many different ways.

Often, if someone has asked a technical question, then the one asking the question is reassured because someone within the group is able to provide understanding of what’s going on or what to expect from certain treatments.


This comes up a lot. For instance, one occassion, one group member was able to help another with advice on how to look after an allotment during cancer treatment. At the centre, I’ve also asked about financial support, and I have been helped with understanding and completing the official paper work for a disabled parking badge and PIP payments.


As a Christian, I need the immediacy of knowing that God is present with me, particularly when I’m feeling stretched or sensitive or feeling overwhelmed.

There have been crucial times during my cancer that I’ve known and felt God present with me.

The reality is, with these things close at hand, I can feel very positive about my life. Cancer is a dreadful disease - you can’t get away from that, but I don’t feel the sense of overwhelming gloom and disaster anymore.

I feel more positive about life, I feel a sense of control. And that comes from having my toolbelt close at hand.

Here with you

If you or someone you love has cancer, Maggie’s is here with you.

Come and see us at your nearest Maggie’s, call us on 0300 123 180 or email us at

More stories from our centres

Show more stories

Sign up for our newsletter

Stay up to date with our news and fundraising by signing up for our newsletter.

Sign up