- Cancer Information
- Supporting someone with cancer
- Caring for someone with cancer
- How will you feel as a carer?
- Finding ways to cope
Finding ways to cope
Caring for someone with cancer is not always easy or satisfying. It may feel hard to find the time or energy to look after your own wellbeing. The simple strategies described below may help you cope and feel more in control.
Clear your mindRelaxation and meditation techniques can help carers maintain their energy levels and improve their quality of life. Listen to our relaxation and meditation podcast. You could also try a local yoga or tai chi class.
Connect with othersYou can share your thoughts and experiences with other carers through support groups.
This can be by phone, in person or online.
Be kind to yourselfNo-one is a “perfect” carer. It is often a demanding role and everyone has bad days. Try to avoid using the words “should” or “must” and accept that you are doing the best you can. Acknowledging the benefits you get from caring may help you feel better.
Seek supportIf at any stage you feel overwhelmed, speak to your GP, as counselling or medicine – even for a short time – may help. You may be referred to a psychologist. Beyond Blue has information about coping with depression and anxiety. You can also call Lifeline 13 11 14 for crisis support at any time of the day or night. Some people find online programs or smartphone apps helpful in managing depression and anxiety.
Draw on spiritualitySome people find meaning and comfort in spiritual practices, such as prayer, meditation or quiet contemplation. It can be challenging when someone you care for is diagnosed with cancer, and it may help to talk about your feelings with a spiritual care practitioner, religious leader or counsellor.
Find out what to expectIt may help to learn more about the cancer and treatment options – learn about some reliable sources of information. Going with the person to medical appointments can give you a better understanding of what to expect and how to plan for any changes.
Deal with uncertaintyWhen the person you care for is having treatment, life may seem less predictable it may be hard to plan ahead. Carers often find this uncertainty stressful and feel that their life is in limbo. You may find it easier to cope if you focus on those things you can control right now. Letting go of what you cannot control leave you with more energy and mental capacity.
Get creativeIf you are having trouble expressing how you are feeling, you could try writing a journal or you may prefer to keep an art journal of sketches and notes. Looking back through journal entries can give some perspective – you may see that some days are better than others.
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.
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