Emotional concerns

As a carer, you may experience a range of emotions, from feelings of loss, to depression. It may help you to talk to someone else about sensitive topics like death and dying, and changes to relationships.

Some common topics that you may need to address during these challenging times are:

Seeing a counsellor, social worker or psychologist can help you better deal with the emotional strain you may face as a carer for someone with advanced cancer.

Feelings of loss

You may grieve about how things used to be with the person you are caring for, or for your loss of time and ability to enjoy life as you used to. You may be starting to grieve the expected death of the person you are caring for. This is called anticipatory grief. Your emotions can cycle from feeling very caring and protective to feelings of anger and resentment about what you have lost or may lose.

Everyone deals with loss in their own way, but there are ways to feel more in control.

  • Acknowledge your grief. It is alright to cry or feel angry at times.
  • Ask family and friends for practical and emotional support.
  • Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 for information about coping with loss and grief.


Providing ongoing care and support can be challenging, and some carers become depressed. If you find that you are not feeling any pleasure, that you are stressed, irritable or emotional almost all the time, or that you cannot sleep or have lost your appetite, talk to your doctor. You may be referred to counselling or prescribed medicines, if appropriate for your situation.

People with advanced cancer can also become depressed. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, suggest they see a counsellor or doctor. The beyondblue guide for carers includes information for carers of people living with depression.

Talking about death and dying

When cancer is advanced, family and friends may wonder if the person will die. This can be a frightening thought, and one that is often mixed with other feelings, such as anger, sadness or guilt.

Although most people are not comfortable talking openly about death and dying, it’s an important topic and an opportunity to discuss practical issues such as place of death.

Sometimes, knowing the person’s wishes can help you avoid regret or feelings of guilt later on. Palliative Care Australia’s Dying to Talk discussion starter can help you start a conversation.

Changes to relationships

For many carers, a diagnosis of advanced cancer can affect the established roles within a family, friendship or relationship. These changes may last for only a short time or be longer-lasting.

Cancer can strengthen a relationship or strain it. Try to be open and honest about your concerns. Before beginning a conversation, work out if it is a good time to talk. If you find it difficult to start this discussion or feel the person with cancer is avoiding the conversation, you could suggest you both talk with a counsellor.

You may find yourself thinking about how you will manage if the person with cancer dies. This is natural, but try not to exclude them from everyday events and decisions.

If people with cancer are physically able, they often prefer, or even need, to take on daily activities to help maintain their sense of independence. They don’t have to, and often don’t wish to, feel helpless.

How to find a counsellor

  • Ask your GP for a referral to a counsellor, social worker or psychologist. The Better Access initiative allows GPs to refer people to psychologists or social workers for several free sessions. You could also see a private counsellor or psychologist for a fee.
  • Call the National Carer Counselling Program on 1800 242 636. This offers short-term counselling and is run by your local Carers Association. You can also call Cancer Council 13 11 20 – our oncology nurses can put you in touch with a counsellor who has oncology-related experience.

      − Read more of Isabella’s story

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on living with advanced cancer.

Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059


To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in December 2016
View who reviewed this content
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