- Cancer Information
- Supporting someone with cancer
- Caring for someone with cancer
- Caring for yourself
- When your caring role ends
When your caring role ends
Many people find that the most challenging time in their caring role is when the need for care finishes. You could feel a bit lost or not needed anymore. If the person has recovered, they may appear to have forgotten how much time and effort you gave. This can be hurtful, but they probably don’t realise how you are feeling.
You may be surprised that the person who has had cancer does not seem happy or relieved that they have been given good news. The end of treatment can actually be a difficult time emotionally, and cancer survivors sometimes experience depression as they adjust to the “new normal”. It is important to communicate openly about how you are both feeling.
You may expect that you’ll slip back into day-to-day life as it was before you took on the caring role, but this may not be straightforward. You might feel you are still waiting for the next setback. Your life may also have changed. Going back to work or resuming other responsibilities can be overwhelming. Do things at your own pace and give yourself time to adjust. You might be able to return to work part-time or take on fewer responsibilities.
Talking about your feelings with someone you trust can help. Studies show that caring often brings changes in life philosophy and relationships, and personal growth. Many people find these changes are rewarding and life-changing, but it’s not a positive experience for everyone. You may need time to reflect on what has happened and what it has meant to you.
Dr Laura Kirsten, Principal Clinical Psychologist, Nepean Cancer Care Centre, NSW; Mary Bairstow, Senior Social Worker, Cancer Centre, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Anne Booms, Nurse Practitioner – Supportive and Palliative Care, Icon Cancer Centre Midland, WA; Dr Erica Cameron-Taylor, Staff Specialist, Department of Palliative Care, Mercy Hospice, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Louise Good, Cancer Nurse Consultant, WA; Verity Jausnik, Senior Policy Officer, Carers Australia; David Larkin, Cancer Supportive Care Manager, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, Canberra Hospital and Health Service, ACT; Kate Martin, Consumer; John McMath, Consumer; Simone Noelker, Physiotherapist and Wellness Centre Coordinator, Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre, VIC; Tara Redemski, Senior Physiotherapist – Cancer Care, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Dean Rowe, Consumer; Chris Sibthorpe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.