Caring for Someone With Cancer

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K. on 23 May 2022

Caring For Someone With Cancer

If anyone you care for has been diagnosed with cancer, you will want to do whatever you can to assist them. Taking on the position of caregiver, on the other hand, isn't convenient.

People with cancer rely on their caregivers for a range of services, ranging from logistical assistance (such as commuting to medical appointments and dealing with insurance issues) to emotional help.

Being a caregiver can be rewarding, but it can also be draining. It's important to realise what the job entails and how to avoid burnout. Continue reading for advice about what to consider and how to stay well.

Limit Your Research

When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, it's normal to want to learn everything you can about the disease. Although it is important to consider the disorder and its recovery choices as a caregiver, try to mitigate knowledge overload.

It's easy to get nervous and discouraged when you're poring over cancer figures. Furthermore, it can worsen the mental condition of the individual you're caring for.

Instead, concentrate on the individual's perspective. Survival rates and other estimates are based on broad groups of patients with cancer and do not reflect what would happen to a single individual, such as your loved one. A person's mood will often improve dramatically whether they participate in a research experiment or if a medical drug is accepted.

If you have particular concerns about your loved one's cancer or prognosis, contact their healthcare staff.


One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with cancer is the stigma associated with the condition. Certain cancers linked to modifiable risk factors (risk factors you can control) are linked to stigmas. According to a study conducted by the Mesothelioma Center, 12% of Americans blame lung cancer patients for their illness. Self-blame, rage, remorse, embarrassment, and shame are all common emotions for people with lung cancer, according to research.

Also caregivers may be required to resolve this stigma in order to advocate for their loved one. If anyone questions if the individual with cancer has ever abused alcohol, smoked, led a sedentary lifestyle and had a poor diet, clarify that asking that question may be harmful. To raise consciousness of cancer, gently warn people that it does not only concern people who have engaged in those lifestyles in the past.

Even though they don't want to, close relatives may make an individual with cancer feel bad about their illness. Meeting with an oncology social worker will help you overcome any of these problems and move with your complex feelings as a caregiver.

Finally, according to CancerCare, the individual you're caring for might be experiencing guilt. They may believe they have earned the disease and begin to engage in self-destructive habits, such as disobeying their doctors' advice. If this occurs to a significant one, speak with their healthcare provider for additional resources.


A caregiver's ability to help those with cancer is critical to their well-being. You'll function as both a home health aide and a friend. You'll need to provide a combination of medical, practical, and emotional care.

Medical Care

You may be responsible for routine medical care as a caregiver for those with cancer. This can involve things like:

  • Administering drugs
  • Assisting in the management of side effects
  • Accompanying your loved one to doctor's visits
  • Interacting with the medical staff
  • Having a phone list of people to dial in an emergency.
  • Assisting with the bathing and dressing of your loved one
  • Taking part in palliative care requirements

Practical Care

For those seeking chemotherapy or living with advanced cancer, everyday tasks may be exhausting. They may go to you for help with practical care needs such as:

  • shopping for groceries
  • preparing food
  • tidying up their living space
  • commuting to and from doctor's appointments
  • putting the laundry away
  • making payments on bills
  • dealing with the topic of health insurance
  • addressing budgetary concerns

Emotional Care

One of the most difficult aspects of caregiving is providing moral support to a loved one who has cancer. It's possible that you'll have to encounter ambiguity together when attempting to be optimistic.

When your loved one is talking about their illness, practise active listening skills. Although it's normal to try to help them with their issues, bear in mind that you can't fix the situation. Instead, pay attention to what they're doing and assist them in accepting their condition. This is one of the most effective ways to provide moral assistance.

Everyone deals with cancer in their own unique way. It's natural for your loved one to experience emotional ups and downs as their illness progresses. Try not to alter their feelings as a caregiver. Accept how they are feeling on a daily basis.

Looking After Yourself

Taking care of someone with cancer can be physically and emotionally draining, particularly if you have to juggle your responsibilities with work, household tasks, and child rearing. It's important to continue to refuel every day in order to avoid burning out.

Joining a caregiver support network will help you connect with those who are going through similar experiences. Counseling will also help you develop coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety, remain organised, manage everyday problems, and find the best words to express your feelings about your loved one.

Also, try to keep your fitness a focus. Maintain your health by incorporating a 30-minute stroll into your daily routine. Prepare nutritious meals and limit the alcohol consumption. To have a proper night's sleep, practise good sleep hygiene. If you're not feeling well, speak to your doctor about what you should do to improve your situation.

Caregivers may also benefit from a number of other self-care practises. Consider incorporating yoga and meditation into the routine. Make time for your leisure activities, such as walking, drawing, entertaining, or gardening. Making time for the stuff you love will make you feel less stressed overall.

Finally, remember to be kind to yourself. Being a caregiver is a demanding profession. It's normal to experience unpleasant feelings such as remorse, rage, and sorrow. When you seek assistance, ask for it, just handle things one day at a time.


Taking care of a loved one who has cancer can be both satisfying and difficult. You'll be responsible for a variety of tasks, including medical and practical care as well as social assistance. You can still face social stigma as a result of the connection between cancer and smoking.

Taking care of yourself will help you prevent burnout as a caregiver. Make your fitness and well-being a daily priority. You may also discover opportunities to manage by joining a caregiver support group or talking to a counselor.


Referenced on 28/04/2021:

  1. Counseling to better cope with caregiving. (n.d.).
  2. Family Caregiver Alliance. (2012). Taking care of you: Self-care for family caregivers.
  3. If you’re about to become a cancer caregiver. (2019).
  4. Knapp S, et al. (2014). Identity threat and stigma in cancer patients. DOI:
  5. What a cancer caregiver does. (2016).

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