Carer roles and challenges

Caring for a loved one with cancer comes with a lot of responsibilities. We're here to help you with these challenges.

Being supportive in your carer role

Taking care of a loved one with cancer is one of the hardest roles anyone can do.

You’re often asked to manage medications, get your loved one to appointments, communicate with their healthcare team, make meals, be the patient’s main emotional support, and more. The list goes on and on.

Sometimes, all this additional responsibility leaves very little time for you.

Supporting a Loved One

When people with cancer undergo treatments, the focus is on them and their needs. Yet cancer often affects more than just one person. In many cases, it’s the entire family, and especially the caregivers – who are also significantly impacted by the experience.

To help you manage, we’ve put together information about many of the supportive roles carers take on. This includes how to manage medications, communicate with your loved one’s healthcare team, and deal with legal and financial issues.

Your wellbeing matters

It’s important to make time for yourself, as your wellbeing still matters. Pushing yourself too hard can actually make caregiving and supporting your loved one harder. The Cancer Council has information for people who are looking after someone with cancer.

Here are some suggestions to help you prioritise your own health:

Maintaining a healthy diet will give you the energy you need and help keep you from getting sick.

Tell your friends and family how they can help you, as they may not know the best way to support you.

The Cancer Council has information about where local support groups are and what they offer – including face-to-face support, phone counselling and online counselling. Support groups allow you to discuss your experiences with other people who are dealing with the same problems. If you try one that doesn’t feel like a good fit, try another one. View the Cancer Council support for more information.

Your health insurance plan may cover the cost of seeing a therapist.

Speaking to someone who’s been through the same experience can help. Phone the Cancer Council on 13 11 20 to connect with an ambassador who understands how you’re feeling and knows how they can best help you with your concerns.