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.

It is important to look after your own physical and emotional wellbeing. Give yourself some time out and share your concerns with somebody neutral such as a counsellor or your doctor, or try calling Cancer Council 13 11 20. There is a wide range of support available to help you with both the practical and emotional aspects of your caring role.

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.

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 Associations – Carers Australia works with the Carers Associations in each state and territory to provide information and services to carers. Call 1800 242 636.

Cancer Council – Call Cancer Council 13 11 20, see Caring for someone with cancer, or listen to our podcasts How to Help Someone with Cancer and Cancer Affects the Carer Too.

Ways carers can help

There are many ways to show your concern or offer support to someone who has been diagnosed with cancer.

  • Offer to go with them to appointments – You can join in the discussion, take notes or simply listen.
  • Become informed – Learn about the cancer and its treatment. This will help you understand what the person is facing, but be careful about offering advice.
  • Don’t be afraid to say nothing – The silence might feel awkward, but simply being close to the person or holding their hand also shows you care and provides comfort.
  • Try not to do too much or take over – Give the person the opportunity to do things for themselves to maintain a sense of normality and independence. They may appreciate the chance to be useful and connected to activities they enjoy, such as reading to the kids, even if they can’t do as much physically.
  • Provide practical help – Take the kids to school, cook a meal, help with the house or garden, or offer to drive them to appointments. You don’t have to do it all yourself – accept offers of help from family and friends.
  • Look after yourself – Give yourself time to rest, as well as time away from the person with cancer. They probably would also appreciate some time alone. You need to look after your health if you’re going to give support. Don’t underestimate the emotional impact of supporting someone through cancer.
  • Focus on other things – Make time to watch your favourite sport or TV show together, play a card or board game, or go on an outing together.
  • Listen to their concerns – Try to understand their feelings and perspective about treatment, side effects, finances and the future.
  • Talk honestly about your feelings – Try not to change the subject if it gets uncomfortable. Instead, share how you feel and respect each other’s feelings.
  • Be around – Your presence will help them feel less isolated and let them know you care. If you are not there in person, check in by phone, text or email.

For more on this call Cancer Council 13 11 20, or see Carers.

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on Caring for Someone with Cancer.

Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit:


To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit:

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit:

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in January 2019
View who reviewed this content
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Support services

Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum

Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono services, financial and legal assistance, and no interest loans

Cancer information

How will you feel as a carer?
Learn about some of the emotions you may feel as a carer, and ways to manage your emotions to cope better in these challenging times

How relationships can change
Learn how your relationships can change after you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, and how to manage this