Practical concerns

Caring for someone who has advanced cancer can impact your life significantly, and you may need to make certain adjustments to your day-to-day life.

Learn more about:

Work and income

You may need time off work to attend medical appointments or to care for the person with cancer. Explain your situation to your employer. Most employers appreciate honesty and will try to accommodate your needs.

Check your entitlements because you may be eligible for time off. Some employers will let you take annual leave, long service leave or leave without pay.

You may be eligible for a carer payment from the government if you provide constant care for the person with cancer (whether or not you work outside the home). To find out more, visit

Speak to your hospital social worker about other sources of financial assistance. You may be eligible to access Cancer Council’s Legal and Financial Referral Service. Cancer Council also has free resources about your rights in regard to care and work. Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 to learn more.

Accepting help

Not all your family and friends will know how to respond and provide support – some may not know what to do or even avoid contacting you at first. They may want to avoid thinking about their own death or be afraid of saying the wrong thing, so instead say nothing.

This doesn’t necessarily mean family and friends don’t care; they may be having trouble coping with the diagnosis. The list below shows various ways that family, friends, work colleagues and neighbours can help.

Practical ideas for carers

  • Use group text messages, email, and other social media platforms or record a message on an answering machine to let people know what is happening. This avoids having to repeat information.
  • Ask someone to take on the role of information provider. Make sure this person has the latest information.
  • Place a message on the door when it is a good time for visitors.
  • Turn off the phone and have a rest when the person with cancer is resting.
  • Take time out. There will be times when you feel exhausted or overwhelmed. This is normal. Sit outside, or go for a walk or a drive.
  • Chat to people you trust about what is happening. It helps them understand what you are going through and helps you release any concerns or stresses you have.
  • Involve friends and family – try not to do everything yourself. Sometimes people need to be told specifically what they can do, for example, providing a meal or picking up the kids from school.
  • Keep all information about the person you’re caring for in one place. This could include emergency contacts, details of advance care planning documents and a list of medicines.
  • Be realistic about how much you can do, as doing too much may affect how well you cope. Do more of what is important and less of what isn’t.
  • Use Carer Gateway’s ‘Find a service’ search function to locate home help, transport, counselling and support groups near you. See
  • Connect with someone who has had a similar experience. Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 for more information.

This information was last reviewed in December 2016
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