Two charities have joined forces to launch a service supporting people who care for someone living with cancer.
Carers Support West Sussex and Macmillan Cancer Support launched the project last week and Susan Bolton from Lancing was one of the first to benefit.
She cares for her husband Richard, who has liver cancer, and her son Adrian, who has Asperger’s.
Sue said: “My hubby was diagnosed last year with a rare cancer and our lives were turned upside down. To know that I can email and get a call back within 24 hours is a life saver.
“I got so low and could not get support anywhere as the waiting lists were months not weeks. Carers Support helped me through that time and it was invaluable.
“I always thought I would not be able to talk to anyone about my feelings and thoughts but it was as though I was talking to a friend and I know I will still get a call each month to see how things are. I am and always will be very grateful.”
The two-and-a-half-year project will support adults in West Sussex, with a new specialist team of carer wellbeing workers providing emotional support and information.
The service includes one-to-one support for unpaid carers, emotional support during a tough time, referring people for other support where needed and providing access to Carers Support West Sussex services, including carer groups, a carer health and wellbeing fund, and counselling.
Jill Lancaster, community team lead at Carers Support West Sussex, said: “Carers tell us a cancer diagnosis can start what feels like a rollercoaster ride for both the person with cancer along with their family and friends.
“They might need to support the person with cancer through a minefield of clinical, emotional and practical issues but, all too often, with the focus on the person with the diagnosis, fail to recognise their needs, concerns and the impact on their own health.
“Our experienced, friendly workers understand this rollercoaster and the potential for isolation with an uncertain future. They put the carer, be it family or friend, first and help them to find ways to sustain their role through the ups and downs to come.”
Kristiina Parkinson, partnership manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, added: “As more of us are being diagnosed and living with cancer, it is vital we recognise and support the important role of people caring for those with cancer.
“Caring involves everything from driving the person with cancer to their treatments, supporting with housework and providing much-needed emotional support.
“Cancer doesn’t wait for a convenient time in people’s lives and carers can end up juggling an overwhelming set of responsibilities. With this in mind, I am so pleased we are able to provide carers in West Sussex with the support of this new service.”