Cancer support groups and therapies

Cancer support groups and therapies

Treatment for cancer can be a difficult experience. Challenges can include pain, fatigue and feelings of anxiety and worry.

We offer emotional, psychological and practical support, including groups and one-to-one sessions, to help you manage these issues.

Art therapy

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses visual art as a way of expressing and working through thoughts and feelings.

Some things are difficult to put into words and art therapists are trained to enable patients to use art materials as a way of exploring a range of personal issues.

There can be a lot of talking too: how the art making and the verbal discussion combine in art therapy is determined by the needs of each individual.

For a person living with a diagnosis of cancer and the events which follow, art therapy can be a valuable part of the treatment programme, offering psychological support and contributing to improved general wellbeing.

Art therapy is suitable for working on a wide range of issues related to cancer and its treatments such as:

  • identity and body image
  • coping with change, loss and uncertainty
  • meaning and existential questions
  • depression, anxiety and stress

Art therapy is not an art lesson and it is not necessary to have any previous experience or expertise in art. Nor does the art therapist judge whether the art is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or make a clinical diagnosis based on the work produced.

Contact us

For more information contact Megan Tjasink, art psychotherapist (MAT) (HCPC) (BAAT), or ask a member of your healthcare team to refer you.

Tel: 020 3465 5516
Email: Megan Tjasink

Art therapy at St Bartholomew’s Hopsital is provided through the generous support of the Corinne Burton Memorial Trust.

Complementary therapies

Complementary therapies are a range of treatments used to help support our patients and improve their quality of life. This could include an increased ability to relax and a better sense of wellbeing. Symptoms such as constipation, pain, insomnia, fatigue, breathlessness, muscular aches and anxiety may be helped this way too.

Which therapies are available?


The use of plant based essential oils, which may be either inhaled or used as massage oil. We can also create an inhaler called an aroma-stick which you can take away with you and use as often as you would like to. The oils in the inhalers can be blended to suit specific needs, for example to help with nausea.


A type of foot or hand massage with gentle pressures at specific points. You will only need to remove your shoes and socks for this treatment.


The use of light pressure on the body, directly onto the skin. Specific parts of the body may be treated. We also offer a form of massage called biodynamic’ that aims to help on a combined physical, emotional and spiritual level.


Therapists use light pressure on specific parts of the body, through clothing.

Relaxation and guided visualisation

Therapists make use of breathing and muscle relaxation techniques and positive thoughts and images.

Bowen Technique

The therapist uses gentle hand movements on the body, through clothing. There are frequent pauses of a few minutes which allow the body to respond to the treatment.


The therapist places their hands in a series of positions on or near the body. There is no massage or manipulation. You will be fully clothed and either sitting on a chair or lying down on a couch.

Who is the service for?

The service is available for Barts Health cancer and palliative care patients. Patients may be seen as inpatients or outpatients.

How often can I have complementary therapies?

Therapies are offered for four to six sessions in outpatient clinics. We appreciate that needs change and so we are happy for you to be re-referred as necessary. In-patients may be seen multiple times.

How can I be referred?

Your key worker, nurse specialist or any member of your medical team can refer you into the service. Following referral, a member of the Complementary Therapies Service Team will contact you in order to arrange an initial appointment.

Is there a charge?

The service is free of charge. If you would like to support the Complementary Therapies Service, donations can be made to Special Purpose Fund 8404 at Barts Charity.

Contact us

Call 020 8539 5522 and use extension 5840. A therapist will be happy to talk about the service further and answer any questions you may have.

Macmillan cancer support

Information centres

Anyone affected by cancer can access expert information covering the entire range of cancers, treatments, psychosocial issues, lifestyle issues and financial matters at one of our Macmillan information centres located at our hospitals. Details can be found using the 'Visit a Macmillan information centre' section on this page.

Personalised care and support

Personalised care and support is a holistic approach to patient care, supporting patients to live well with and beyond their cancer diagnosis. The service also supports patients to be more in control of their recovery.

As part of the cancer team at Barts Health we have Macmillan cancer support workers who work alongside our specialist nurses and consultants. They support people who have a cancer diagnosis, are currently undergoing treatment, and those patients who are living with or beyond cancer.

Macmillan cancer support workers work with patients and carers to identify and address any worries or concerns after a cancer diagnosis, helping individuals to take control of their care and to live well. Support is available face-to-face in one of our Macmillan information centres or on the ward, over the telephone or via email.

Holistic needs assessment (HNA)

These are offered after an initial diagnosis and after an acute period of treatment has been completed, e.g. surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy. It is a time to talk with a support worker to discuss any concerns. The focus is the person as a whole not just their illness. Individuals decide how much information they would like to share about their current situation and, with the support of the support worker, a care plan is agreed.

The following concerns are examples of what might be discussed as part of a HNA :

  • Practical e.g. money, work or household tasks
  • Family/relationships e.g. changes in your relationships
  • Emotional e.g. fears, worry, anger, depression or anxiety
  • Spiritual/religious e.g. loss of faith, loss of meaning or purpose
  • Physical e.g. appearance, eating, fatigue

Health and wellbeing resources

The Macmillan team at Barts Health have created a number of videos with information for patients, carers and family members:

Healthy eating and physical activity (duration = 1 hour 10 mins)
Use password: jXFX82Vx

Anxiety and sleep disturbance (duration = 57 mins)
Use password: TprC3BeC

The following films were made by a group of people who are living with or beyond cancer. The process brought them together to discover the importance of peer support and the power of personal stories.

Mind the Dash (duration = 30 mins)

Togetherness (duration = 24 mins) 

Macmillan Partnership Programme in Tower Hamlets

The Tower Hamlets Macmillan local authority partnership programme (THMLAPP) has two services aimed at improving personalised care and support for people in the borough.

Both services are funded by Macmillan cancer support and are available to cancer patients living in Tower Hamlets.

Macmillan cancer care navigation service

The service is delivered by East London Foundation Trust. The aims are:

  • To have personalised conversations to assess peoples’ holistic needs
  • Co-produce a care plan, coordinating with other professionals in the team around the person
  • Ensure that people access the information and support they require, especially in the community.

More information can be found on the ELFT website.

Take home and settle service

Delivered by Age UK East London for people affected by cancer undergoing treatment. The aims are:

  • Ensuring that the home environment is safe, clean and comfortable
  • Organising practical support – e.g. personal care, household tasks, support with pets, children or other dependents
  • Planning ahead for treatment schedules
  • Providing reassurance and reducing anxiety
  • Signposting and referring to other holistic support services in the community, or adult social care if needed

More information can be found on the Age UK East London website.

These services enable care closer to home, better transition support, joint assessment and care planning and improved experience and outcome for both cancer patients and their carers.

Patient support groups

Group support is available for people with any type of cancer and their friends and families before, during or after treatment.

Every group provides an opportunity to talk to other people who are in a similar situation to you and to share experiences. 

Groups offer a safe space to express emotions you might not want to share with your friends and family.

You might learn from those a little way ahead of you in their journey and develop your own strategies for coping. 

Group details

Group name


Frequency of meetings 


Primary breast cancer support group

Maggie's Barts

Third Tuesday of every month, 1-2pm

Email or call 0203 904 3448
Secondary cancer support group Maggie's Barts First Tuesday of every month, 1-2pm Email or call 0203 904 3448

Men's cancer support group 

Maggie's Barts

Coming soon 

Email or call 020 3904 3448  

Ovarian cancer support group 

Maggie's Barts

2nd Monday of the month 3:30 – 5:00pm 

Email or call 020 3904 3448  

Young women’s support group 

Maggie's Barts

1st and 3rd Thursday of each month 12-1.30pm 

Email or call 020 3904 3448

Friends and family support group 

Maggie's Barts

2nd Thursday of each month 12-1.30pm 

Email or call 020 3904 3448  

LGBTIQ+ support group 

Maggie's Barts

1st Thursday of each month 3pm-4pm 

Email or call 020 3904 3448  

Testicular support group 

St Bartholomew's, virtual meet up

Monthly in the evening 


Prostate support sroup 

Whipps Cross, virtual meet up



Breast cancer support group 

Whipps Cross 

On hold 

Call Tina Donoghue, 020 8535 6643 

Bladder cancer support group 

Whipps Cross 

Coming soon 

Call Sharan Hatch, 0208 5356790 

Chronic GvHD support group 

Virtual group accessed via Starleaf 

Every 2 months

Email Debbie Anderson 

Talking Heads 

On hold

On hold

Email Marianne Miller

Psychological support

Working with the medical and allied health team

The team offers advice and consultation to doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to enable them to better support their patients.

Working with patients and their families

Psychologists in the team offer assessments and where appropriate, short term interventions for patients and their families regarding issues such as:

  • depression and anxiety
  • treatment related difficulties
  • fear of recurrence and living with uncertainty
  • end of life issues including decisions about treatment and complex bereavement reactions

As the service does not accept self referrals, if you are interested in seeing a psychologist please talk to your clinical nurse specialist in the first instance who can discuss what might be most appropriate for you and what options are available.

Managing Cancer workshops

The Managing Cancer psychology workshops are a series of workshops that provide information and support to patients, their family and friends. Topics cover different aspects of the patient experience, such as:

  • dealing with a diagnosis
  • talking about cancer to others
  • stress, relaxation and resilience
  • sleep and fatigue
  • body Image
  • sexuality and sexual relationships
  • after the treatment finishes

You can attend the workshops which are relevant to you and do not need to attend all workshops. You can come along on your own or bring someone with you. 

The workshops are 90 minutes long and are held on Tuesday mornings throughout the year in the Conference Centre, Ground Floor, West Wing, St Bartholowmew’s Hospital.  

For more information including the dates of forthcoming workshops, speak to your clinical nurse specialist or telephone the Macmillan Cancer Information Centre at St Bartholowmew’s on 020 3465 6611.