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Taking care of yourself

Supporting and helping someone with cancer can be rewarding and challenging. But it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. By taking time to look after yourself both physically and emotionally it will help you both. 

Dealing with your feelings

It can be difficult and upsetting to see the person you care about crying and distressed. Remember that this can be an important release for them. 

Get some support and help for yourself if you are finding it hard to cope with the diagnosis. You might be experiencing a range of different emotions. Some people might feel guilty for being healthy. 

There are people and organisations who can help if these feelings are overwhelming for you.

You might find our online forum useful where you can chat with people in a similar situation. 

You could look for a support group in your local area. Or ask your GP to refer you for some counselling. If you are a member of a religious group you could get support from them. 

Being a carer

Caring for someone is extremely physically and emotionally tiring especially when they are a loved one. It will help you both if you look after yourself. 

Tips for looking after yourself

  • Eat well – try to eat healthily and have regular meals.
  • Be active – this could be a short walk or more structured exercise, it is good for both your physical and emotional wellbeing.
  • Get enough sleep – this can be difficult if you are worrying, talk to your doctor about it if it is a problem.
  • Talk to other friends or family about how you’re feeling, sharing your feelings can help you in the same way it can help the person with cancer.
  • Take breaks – when you’re caring for someone especially someone you love it is extremely tiring, you’ll be able to cope better if you do have breaks.

Getting support

When you’re looking after someone with cancer you might have extra needs such as financial or physical ones. 

Perhaps you have had to give up work to care for someone or maybe you need a break from caring as things are getting too much. Whatever your situation, there is support available.

The following organisations can provide help for carers.

Macmillan has lots of useful information for carers and advice on supporting someone with cancer. They can give financial advice regarding benefits. They also have Macmillan funded courses about supporting others with cancer. 

Carers UK gives expert advice, information and support to people who are caring for someone in the UK. 

Crossroads Care and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers merged in April 2012 to form the Carers Trust. It works to improve support services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring for a family member or friend who is ill, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems. They provide access to desperately needed breaks, information and advice, education, training and employment opportunities. They have offices in Scotland and Wales that can be contacted through the website or the London office. 

Phone: 0300 772 9600
Email: info@carers.org

Last reviewed: 
26 Jan 2018
  • Self-management support from the perspective of patients with a chronic condition: a thematic synthesis of qualitative studies
    J. Dwarswaard and others
    Health Expectations. Vol 19, Issue 2. April 2016

  • The effect of individualized patient education, along with emotional support, on the quality of life of breast cancer patients - A pilot study
    S.Sajjad and others
    European Journal of Oncology Nursing. Vol 21, April 2016, p75-82 

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