Getting support

Even though family and friends can be there to help, many people still find it hard to ask for, and accept, support. When you are dealing with treatment and side effects, your support network can make an enormous difference. You don’t have to deal with cancer alone. Family and friends usually appreciate being allowed to provide support – it helps them feel useful.

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Offers of help

Friends and family can help in different ways. Some people will be comfortable talking about the cancer and comforting you if you are upset. Other people may prefer to support you in practical ways, such as helping with meals, transport or work around the home. You may want to use an app to set up a roster so people can choose activities that match their abilities and interests.

Different ways people can help

  • Providing practical support – preparing meals, doing household chores, going grocery shopping, driving you to appointments, sharing an after-school roster, helping you exercise
  • Keeping others informed – screening calls and emails, acting as a gatekeeper or support coordinator
  • Offering companionship – listening without trying to solve your problems
  • Keeping you involved – getting you out and about, and talking about other things aside from cancer

Getting support when you need it

It’s not unusual for people to find themselves alone sometimes in their lives. Having a serious illness when you feel that you have no close family or friends can be especially hard. But you don’t have to tough it out by yourself. See the section below for details of services that offer practical and financial assistance.

Other sources of support could include non-profit organisations, faith-based groups and, if you have children, formal or informal school-based assistance, such as the school counsellor.

You may find that simply getting some help with practical things is all you need. For example, while you are having treatment, it might be useful to have your dog walked, get your lawn mowed or have your groceries or meals delivered.

People are often willing to help if they know you need it. If you feel comfortable, you may consider reaching out to friends or acquaintances. You may want to ask one of them to coordinate offers of help.

– Tash

If you want to talk about the diagnosis or how you’re coping with treatment and side effects, you may want to consider connecting with a support group. 

Practical and financial help

After a cancer diagnosis, many people worry about how they will manage the financial impact. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may need to deal with reduced income and extra costs. There are many services that can help deal with practical or financial problems caused by the cancer.

  • Financial or legal assistance – through benefits, pensions and programs – may help pay for prescription medicines, transport costs to medical appointments, utility bills or basic legal advice.
  • Meals on Wheels, home care services, aids and appliances can be arranged to help make life easier at home.
  • Subsidised travel and accommodation may be available if you need to travel long distances for treatment.
  • Home nursing care may be available through community nursing services or local palliative care services.
  • Centrelink, Commonwealth Carelink Centres, home help or child-care assistance may be available to you.

Ask the hospital social worker which services are available in your area and if you are eligible to receive them. Cancer Council offers free legal and financial services in all states and territories for people who can’t afford to pay. For more on this, call Cancer Council 13 11 20, or see Cancer and Your Finances and Cancer, Work and You.

Talk to someone who’s been there

Coming into contact with other people who have had similar experiences to you can be beneficial. You may feel supported and relieved to know that others understand what you are going through and that you are not alone.

People often feel they can speak openly and share tips with others who have gone through a similar experience.

In a support group, you may find that you are more comfortable talking about your diagnosis and treatment, relationships with friends and family, and hopes and fears for the future. Some people say they can be even more open and honest in these support settings because they aren’t trying to protect their loved ones.

Types of support

There are many ways to connect with others for mutual support and to share information. These include:

  • face-to-face support groups – often held in community centres or hospitals
  • telephone support groups – facilitated by train counsellors
  • peer support programs – match you with someone who has had a similar cancer experience, e.g. Cancer Connect
  • online forums – such as

Talk to your nurse, social worker or Cancer Council 13 11 20 about what is available in your area.

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on Emotions and 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.

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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”.
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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.

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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 2016
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

Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment

Cancer information

What is cancer?
How cancer starts and spreads

Dealing with the diagnosis
Common reactions to a cancer diagnosis and how to find hope

View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends