Shame and social stigma is ‘putting cancer patients at risk’ in Doncaster

Macmillan warns that people with cancer face deteriorating health because they’re too ashamed to seek help with ‘taboo’ side effects.

By Nik Farah
Tuesday, 2nd July 2019, 4:36 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd July 2019, 5:47 pm
Shame and social stigma 'putting cancer patients at risk'
Shame and social stigma 'putting cancer patients at risk'

Thousands of people with cancer in Doncaster may be too ashamed to seek help with life-changing side effects that are considered taboo potentially putting their health and recovery at risk.

Macmillan Cancer Support says thousands of people with cancer in Yorkshire and the Humber are facing side effects including anxiety or depression, sex and relationship issues, and bowel and bladder problems. However, a poll for Macmillan by YouGov has revealed that these, and many other common side effects of cancer, are often seen by the general public as taboo.

Sex and relationships are the number one taboo issues in Yorkshire and the Humber with 37 per cent saying they’d find these issues difficult to talk about.

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Macmillan is worried that shame and stigma is preventing people in Doncaster getting help for very common and often treatable side effects, putting them at risk of deteriorating physical and mental health.

Jo O’Marr is the Macmillan Living Well Cancer Information and Support Service Lead and manages the service. She said: “It’s really sad that despite dealing with a serious illness, people are too embarrassed to ask for help with the associated physical and financial problems as well as their mental wellbeing.

“Patients that we speak to can experience problems with incontinence, erectile dysfunction and relationships. I find these are some of the topics that people feel most embarrassed to broach, but not addressing these issues can have a huge impact on physical and emotional health, and in some instances, even treatment outcomes.

“We all have a responsibility to talk honestly about how cancer affects people. Unless we, as a society, get over our embarrassment, people with cancer will continue to struggle alone with serious issues when help is often just one conversation or phone call away.”

Macmillan works in partnership with Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust who run the Macmillan Living Well Service in Doncaster. People who live in Doncaster can call the service directly for support and advice on 01302 796 853. Visit or call the support line on 0800 8080000.