Caring for someone with cancer
You may be reading this because you are caring for someone with cancer. What this means for you will vary. Being a carer can bring a sense of satisfaction, but it can also be challenging and stressful. Try to look after your own physical and emotional wellbeing. Give yourself some time out and share your concerns with a counsellor or your doctor.
Learn more about:
What kind of support is available?
There is a wide range of support available to help.
- Support services – Support services such as Meals on Wheels, home help or visiting nurses can help you in your caring role. You can find local services, as well as information and resources, through the Carer Gateway. Call 1800 422 737 or visit carergateway.gov.au.
- Support groups and programs – Many cancer support groups and cancer education programs are open to carers as well as to people with cancer. Support groups and programs offer the chance to share experiences and ways of coping.
- Carers Australia – Carers Australia provides information and advocacy for carers.
- Support for young people – Canteen offers support to families with children aged 12–25 who have cancer, or close family member with cancer.
- Cancer Council – You can call Cancer Council 13 11 20 or visit your local Cancer Council website to find out more about carers’ services.
For more on this, see Caring for someone with cancer.
Specific issues for LGBTQI+ carers
Caring can be challenging for everyone but LGBTQI+ carers may have added challenges. These include:
Discrimination – You may feel uncomfortable accessing services and support groups for fear they will discriminate against you because of your sexual orientation, gender or sex characteristics. This may be based on previous experiences with health professionals. You may worry that your relationship to the person you care for will not be recognised and you won’t be included in decision- making. Some people deal with anticipated discrimination by hiding the nature of their relationship when accessing support.
Rights at work – If you are caring for someone in your family or household and working, you have the same rights as other employees. Talk to your employer about your caring responsibilities, and how they can support you with carer’s leave and flexible working arrangements.
For more on this, see Cancer, work and you.
Ask others for help – You don’t have to do all the practical, emotional and financial tasks of caring alone.
Your friends and chosen family may be keen to help, especially if the person’s family of origin has rejected them due to their sexual orientation, gender or intersex variation.
Financial help – Since federal reforms in 2008, everyone has the same rights and entitlements. This means you can access the Carer Allowance and Carer Payment if you meet the criteria. For more details, see Services Australia.
Isolation and loneliness – You might feel lonely if friends stay away or if the LGBTQI+ communities aren’t always as supportive as you’d assumed. Or you may feel too tired to socialise or enjoy your usual activities. Consider joining a support group or call QLife on 1800 184 527 for support.
Podcast: Cancer Affects the Carer Too
The information on this page is also available for download.
We thank the chief investigators from the Out with Cancer research project: Prof Jane Ussher, Prof Janette Perz, Prof Martha Hickey, Prof Suzanne Chambers, Prof Gary Dowsett, Prof Ian Davis, Prof Katherine Boydell, Prof Kerry Robinson and Dr Chloe Parton. Partner investigators were Dr Fiona McDonald and A/Prof Antoinette Anazodo. Research Associates were Dr Rosalie Power, Dr Kimberley Allison and Dr Alexandra J. Hawkey.
We thank the reviewers of our LGBTQI+ People and Cancer booklet: Prof Jane Ussher, Chair, Women’s Heath Psychology and Chief Investigator, Out with Cancer study, Western Sydney University, NSW; ACON; Dr Kimberley Allison, Out with Cancer study, Western Sydney University, NSW; Dr Katherine Allsopp, Supportive and Palliative Care Specialist, Westmead Hospital, NSW; A/Prof Antoinette Anazodo OAM, Paediatric and Adolescent Oncologist, Sydney Children’s Hospital, NSW; Megan Bathgate, Consumer; Gregory Bock, Clinical Nurse Consultant–Oncology Coordinator, Urology Cancer Nurse Coordination Service, WA Cancer & Palliative Care Network, WA; Morgan Carpenter, Executive Director, Intersex Human Rights Australia (formerly OII Australia); Prof Lorraine Chantrill, Medical Co-Director Cancer Services, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, NSW; A/Prof Ada Cheung, Endocrinologist, Head, Trans Health Research Group, Department of Medicine (Austin Health), The University of Melbourne, VIC; Bonney Corbin, Australian Women’s Health Network; Cristyn Davies, Research Fellow, Specialty of Child and Adolescent Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney and Children’s Hospital Westmead Clinical School, NSW; Prof Ian Davis, Professor of Medicine, Monash University and Eastern Health, Medical Oncologist, Eastern Health, Chair, ANZUP Cancer Trials Group, VIC; Rebecca Dominguez, President, Bisexual Alliance Victoria; Liz Duck-Chong, Projects Coordinator, TransHub and Trans Health Equity, ACON, NSW; Lauren Giordano, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Hall & Wilcox (law firm); Natalie Halse, BCNA Consumer Representative; Jem Hensley, Consumer; Prof Martha Hickey, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Melbourne, and Director of the Gynaecology Research Centre, The Women’s Hospital, VIC; Kim Hobbs, Clinical Specialist Social Worker – Gynaecological Cancer, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Dr Laura Kirsten, Principal Clinical Psychologist, Nepean Cancer Care Centre, NSW; Amber Loomis, Policy and Research Coordinator, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia; Julie McCrossin and Melissa Gibson, Consumers; Dr Fiona McDonald, Research Manager, Canteen, NSW; Dr Gary Morrison, Shine a Light (LGBTQIA+ Cancer Support Group); Penelope Murphy, Cancer Council NSW Liaison, Prince of Wales Hospital, NSW; Dr Rosalie Power, Out with Cancer study, Western Sydney University, NSW; Jan Priaulx, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Paul Scott-Williams, Consumer; Simone Sheridan, Sexual Health Nurse Consultant, Sexual Health Services, Austin Health, VIC; Cheryl Waller and Rhonda Beach, Consumers.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.