About MACS Support Group: Questions and Answers

MACS was formed over 12 years ago by Elaine Kay Brown, it started off as nothing kore than a coffee morning at her house for other people who had been diagnosed with cancer in the local area.

People diagnosed with cancer anywhere in the world face many challenges that may leave them feeling overwhelmed, afraid and alone. If diagnosis or treatment takes place in another country this is an added difficulty to cope with ie; not being native can cause added stresses and this is why we are working to ease these problems. These challenges can be overcome by meeting others – as even to talk to the most supportive family members and friends is not always enough. Often, Support Groups can help people affected by cancer feel less alone and can improve their ability to deal with the uncertainties and challenges that cancer brings. Support groups give people who are affected by similar diseases and under taking treatments an opportunity to meet and discuss ways to cope.

  1. 1.    How can MACS support group help? 

People who have been diagnosed with cancer sometimes find they need assistance coping with the emotional, as well as the practical aspects of their disease and when you live in a foreign country this may seem so very far away. In fact, attention to the emotional burden of cancer is sometimes part of a patient’s treatment plan. As a cancer support group we are designed to provide a confidential atmosphere where cancer patients or cancer survivors can discuss the challenges that accompany the illness with others who may have experienced the same challenges. For example, people gather to discuss the emotional needs created by cancer, to exchange information about their disease – including practical problems such as managing side effects, translation issues, understanding paperwork and the systems in a different country or, for many returning to work after treatment here in Spain and to share their feelings of course. Support groups have helped thousands of people cope with these and similar situations and we hope to help as many of those who need it here in Spain

  1. 2. Can family members and friends participate in support groups? 

Family and friends are affected when cancer touches someone they love and they may need help in dealing with stresses such as family disruptions, financial worries and changing roles within relationships. To help meet these needs, MACS support group meetings for Patients and Survivors are designed to be there too, just for family members/partners/carers of people diagnosed with cancer; we do encourage participation in their own way, sometimes just a quiet chat with someone who knows what it is like to live and care for someone with cancer can help a partner or carer feel less alone. Doctors/Medicos or local hospitals who work with cancer patients may also have information about support groups, such as their location, size, type and how often they meet. 

  1. 3.    What types of support groups are MACS? 

We offer different parts of support to our group, which we hope will meet the individual needs of people at all stages of cancer treatment or remissions, from diagnosis through to follow up care and social support. The MACS group offer much to those that may feel they not only want to use the support network but may be ready to contribute and participate in the support side themselves (talking to others), but also in fundraising and social activities. In addition, like a lot of other support groups we can vary in size and how often we meet, but we do like to make sure we cater for everyone and at present we always meet monthly. It is important for people to find an atmosphere that is comfortable and meets their individual needs, so some people may see each other privately, making friends here in Spain which is very supportive.

  1. 4.   Who funds MACS?

MACS Support is funded from the community in Spain. Non profit making and all monies created stay here, helping the people who need it most. MACS is a registered charity.


Cancer support groups can be incredibly helpful if you have been diagnosed with cancer; but it hasn’t always been that way. 

A little more than a decade ago, the concept of emotional support as an important part of a cancer patient’s treatment was considered radical. But then, in 1989, a doctor, David Spiegel, M.D., published a landmark study in the medical journal The Lancet. He reported that a group of 18 patients with advanced cancer who attended weekly support group meetings lived twice as long as 18 patients with the same diagnosis who did not participate in support groups. 

Even though the study has had its critics, and the exact findings related to survival have not yet been replicated, Spiegel’s report triggered a movement to provide emotional support, usually in the form of support group meetings, for all cancer patients who want it. These days, it is easier to find support groups, if you live in your own country.

Many studies on support groups have found that regular attendance can boost quality of life, calm anxiety and make patients more active and in control of their care. MACS aim is to offer a variety of interests (ideas usually generated from members of the group) and also small tips like …..

Keeping a diary or journal can provide a way to make sense of what often feels like the incomprehensible. Writing and recording can create a mental and emotional record of valuable information that may have gone unnoticed without the distance that reflexive writing affords. 

A proper diet is your ally for cancer patients undergoing treatment, although you may not always feel like eating. The right food can go a long way toward alleviating treatment-related symptoms, such as fatigue and weight loss and will help your body bounce back once treatment is over. Proper nutrition is a crucial factor in your cancer therapy, as your body needs plenty of calories and protein to heal, fight infections and withstand chemotherapy and radiation. MACS aim to offer guidance on nutrition through professionals working here in Spain. 

Cancer is one of those life crises that can provide new meaning and purpose in life. But that comes later. Awaiting the diagnosis and hearing the news can be the most emotionally difficult period of the entire cancer experience. MACS can offer assistance of
 counseling in your own language, should you feel the need to talk to someone and do not have sufficient language skills for this nature of support. Counseling is available privately and with “Salud” here in Spain free of charge, but not always available in your native tongue.

When it comes to life’s stresses, cancer is certainly one of the most traumatic. Over time, the strain of coping with your diagnosis and the realities of treatment will probably be compounded by other stresses, such as keeping up with work and dealing with the worries of family and friends. To avoid the additional stress brought about with confusion over the communication and systems of another culture or country, MACS can help you. 

Apart from having to cope with the physical and medical challenges, people with cancer face many worries, feelings and concerns unique to their situation. Cancer patients may find they need help coping with the emotional, as well as the practical aspects of their disease. In fact, attention to the emotional burden of having cancer is often a part of a patient’s treatment plan. MACS can provide access to the most current information regarding available treatments and their side effects through support from Cancer Support in the UK. MACS provide a setting in which cancer patients can talk about living with cancer with others who may be having similar experiences. Many also find our useful basic information fact sheets and booklet very helpful, as we have noted that some languages are not catered for in some hospitals here in Spain – we are hoping that along with awareness of the group, also comes change within the medical profession to cater not only with the excellent medical attention they provide already, but to also increase care and accessibility in general, whether Spanish or of another nationality.