- Cancer Information
- Supporting someone with cancer
- Caring for someone with cancer
- Caring for yourself
- Keeping healthy
Looking after your health can help you cope with the demands of caring, and provide better care for longer. People with cancer often need support for a long time, so it’s important to find ways to support your wellbeing.
Ways to stay healthy
Eat healthy meals and snacksIf the person has long treatment sessions or appointments, or is in hospital, you may need to bring healthy foods and drinks from home. Avoid snacks that are high in added fats, sugars and salt, such as chips, biscuits and chocolate.
Stay in touch with friends and familyMaintaining relationships can help you feel connected to others, reduce stress and provide an opportunity to talk about topics aside from your role as a carer.
Be active for 30 minutes each dayResearch shows that regular physical activity can help with feelings of anger, stress, anxiety and depression. It can also help boost your energy levels and improve sleep. If you can leave the house, a walk, run or swim may help. A stationary exercise bike, a yoga/meditation mat or an online program can allow you to exercise at home. Doing any physical activity is better than none. Even a brisk walk around the block offers benefits.
Organise your timeUse your phone or a diary to help you keep track of appointments, and prioritise your tasks and activities.
Get enough sleep and restTiredness and exhaustion often make everything seem harder. If your sleep is disrupted by your caring responsibilities, try to grab a few minutes’ rest throughout the day whenever the opportunity comes up.
Have regular check-upsIt’s important to maintain regular visits to your GP, dentist, optometrist and other health professionals. See your GP if you notice changes in your sleep patterns, weight or mood. Take part in any cancer screening programs you’re eligible for.
Take time for yourselfMake time each day to do a hobby or activity that you find enjoyable and relaxing. Respite care is available for short or longer periods and may give you the break you need. Don’t underestimate the emotional impact of supporting someone through cancer – you need to look after your own health if you’re going to give support.
Avoid using alcohol, cigarettes or vapes to relaxThese may seem to help for a short time, but they contribute to other problems. If you smoke or vape, call the Quitline on 13 7848 for advice and support tailored to your situation. Talk to your GP if you need support managing your anxiety.
Podcast: Cancer Affects the Carer Too
Dr Alison White, Palliative Medicine Specialist, Royal Perth Hospital, WA; Tracey Bilson, Consumer; Louise Dillon, Consumer; Louise Durham, Nurse Practitioner, Palliative Care Outpatients, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Katrina Elias, Carers Program, South Western Sydney Local Health District, NSW Health, NSW; Jessica Elliott, Social Worker, Youth Cancer Services, Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Brendan Myhill, Social Worker and Bereavement Research Officer, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Penny Neller, Project Coordinator, National Palliative Care Projects, Australian Centre for Health Law Research, Queensland University of Technology, QLD; Olivia Palac, Acting Assistant Director, Occupational Therapy, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Nicole Rampton, Advanced Occupational Therapist, Cancer Services, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Shirley Roberts, Nurse Consultant, Medical Oncology, Northern Adelaide Cancer Centre, SA; Dr Elysia Thornton-Benko, Specialist General Practitioner, and UNSW Research Fellow, NSW; Kathleen Wilkins, Consumer; Helen Zahra, Carers Program, South Western Sydney Local Health District, NSW Health, NSW.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.