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. 

The Carers Trust is a major charity for, with and about carers. They work to improve support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring, unpaid, for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems.

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

Marie Curie is the UK’s leading end of life charity. They provide frontline nursing and hospice care, a free support line and a wealth of information and support on all aspects of dying, death and bereavement. They also have information for carers on their website. 

Last reviewed: 
08 Mar 2021
Next review due: 
08 Mar 2024
  • 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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