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 depending on the situation. Being a carer can bring a sense of satisfaction, but it can also be challenging and stressful. There is a wide range of support available to help you with the practical and emotional aspects of your caring role.
Looking after yourself
It is important to look after your own physical and emotional wellbeing. Make time each day to do something you find relaxing. Research shows that regular exercise can help with feelings of anger, stress, anxiety and depression. It can also improve fatigue and sleep. Even a brisk walk around the block offers benefits.
Talk about how you’re feeling
Share your concerns with somebody neutral such as a counsellor or your doctor. Counselling may be available through your local Cancer Council or the Carer Gateway counselling service. Call 1800 422 737.
Try complementary therapies
Some of the complementary therapies described here may help carers cope with stress and fatigue. Relaxation and meditation techniques can help carers maintain their energy levels and improve their quality of life. Listen to our relaxation and meditation podcast Finding Calm During Cancer or call 13 11 20 to see if your local Cancer Council provides relaxation and meditation recordings. You could also try a local yoga or tai chi class. Some people find meaning and comfort through spiritual practices. It may help to talk about your feelings with a spiritual care practitioner or religious leader.
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.
Support groups and programs
Many cancer support groups and cancer education programs are open to carers as well as to people with cancer. There are also face-to-face, internet and telephone support groups specially for carers. They offer the chance to share experiences and ways of coping. Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 to find out about carer support groups. To connect online with other carers, visit the Cancer Council Online Community.
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.
I joined a tai chi class organised through the Carers Association and also attended their support workshops and relaxation sessions. The encouragement from other carers gave me the confidence boost I needed.Isabella (carer)
Podcast: Cancer Affects the Carer Too
Dr David Joske, Clinical Haematologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and PathWest, Chairman and Founder Solaris Cancer Care Foundation, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The University of Western Australia, WA; Australasian Integrative Medicine Association (AIMA); Dr Robert Blum, Clinical Director, Cancer Services, Bendigo Health, NSW; Sally Brooks, Senior Pharmacist, Medicines Information, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Suzanne Grant, Senior Research Fellow, NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Prof Danforn Lim, Adjunct Professor and Advisory Board Member, NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, and Adjunct Professor, UTS, NSW; Christina Line, Statewide Services Senior Coordinator, Cancer Council WA; Jen McKenzie, Physiotherapist (Lymphoedema) and ESSA Accredited Exercise Physiologist, The McKenzie Clinic, QLD; Simone Noelker, Wellness Centre and Pastoral Care Manager, Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Nirzari Pandit, General Practitioner, RACGP Specific Interests Integrative Medicine Group, NSW; Georgie Pearson, Consumer; Cris Pirone, Counsellor, Cancer Council SA; Dr Elysia Thornton-Benko, Specialist General Practitioner, and UNSW Research Fellow, NSW; Kirsty Trebilcock, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA.
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