What the affects of caring for a Cancer Patient can have on the Carer

What the affects of caring for a Cancer Patient can have on the Carer

 This page is dedicated to all those wonderful carers out there who have been, and continue to support their loved ones or a friend through a cancer diagnosis and can often be forgotten.


Taking Care of Yourself

Taking care of your partner, relative or loved one with cancer will leave you feeling exhausted physically and psychologically and with very few breaks and very little, if any time for yourself.

Although few people think about the effects on the carer, it has to be recognised carer’s go through as much trauma from a different aspect as the patient themselves and can often be forgotten about and relatives can expect too much from them.

You may find you do not sleep very well, even when your partner is sleeping comfortably.

Many of us have found that this is due to being constantly alert and worrying when your partner is ill.  You are afraid to let yourself sleep deeply in case they need you. When you don't sleep, you are naturally tired throughout the day and may also be irritable, and have trouble concentrating on the simplest tasks.

Always on stand by:

As mentioned above, you are constantly alert when you are caring for your partner, day and night, week after week. Being constantly on alert is a huge strain on both the body and the mind. Even when you have a moment to relax, you may find that you have trouble letting go of what you feel you need to be doing for your partner. You may find that you are less patient and more irritable. Try to have patience with yourself, remember to take deep breaths, and find little ways to relax and do something you enjoy.

Exercise can also help to naturally boost your immunity. If you feel yourself getting down or struggling do what you can to help yourself and if you do have any health concerns, make an appointment with your GP.

Always being alert and sleep deprived can take a toll on your own immune system.

Dedication of Carer’s:

It is extremely common among partners of cancer patients to feel the need to do every part of caring perfectly. Many of us believe that if we do everything perfectly, we can somehow guarantee that our partner will come through cancer treatment with flying colours. We also don't want to ever feel that we didn't do something that could have made a difference in our partner’s physical or emotional well-being. When you feel the temptation to be a perfectionist, remember that you are a human being like everyone else, and you will not be able to do everything perfectly. Try to go easy on yourself. If you do the best you can, everyone will see how well you are caring for your partner, even when you can't see it yourself.

Practical Help & Support:

Caring for your partner is overwhelming, and while you cannot know first-hand what he or she is going through, there is quite a lot you can do to give them the strength and support to carry on during their treatment.

Provide practical help and support during their treatment.
Help them to cope with each day and encourage them to take a little gentle exercise if they are able to do so.
Help them to keep their dignity and control of their lives.
Respect their wishes even if this may not seem important to you it may well be a huge issue to your partner which they feel they need to deal during their treatments.
Always be sure to give you partner some time alone, this is something we all need in our lives to help cope with our everyday needs, going through cancer treatment can often make  the need far greater so please respect their wishes.


Relationships can become very complicated when cancer strikes. You may become over-involved or simply oblivious to the situation. Friends may still think it is okay to drop by anytime because "she/he looks good the last time I saw them". They may always want the latest information without realising how intrusive it is to call and pop around every day.

They often don't understand how difficult it is for partners to hold it all together and still keep everyone informed. Providing information about your partners well-being without having everyone call you or call around, practical ideas for accepting help, setting boundaries for those who "don't quite understand", and most importantly, communicating with your partner and children.

You need quality time with your partner so set a few rules down regarding family and relatives just popping in so they do not disturb this valuable time for you both.

It’s polite and perfectly acceptable to say no to visitors especially when you have planned some quality time with your partner and family.

Financial  Advice:

Financial worries are bad enough to deal without having to deal with cancer issues and the many expenses this can cause. There is more information available now about financial help than there has ever been, please see the following information and please do not put yourself down about asking for help, this is why Macmillan had these advisors trained to help make sorting your finances out a lot easier and less stressful for you as Macmillan recognises the needs of the patients and cares when it come to the cost of cancer.

Everyone has right to financial help and support and Macmillan are one of the best sources for this information and they have trained benefit advisors who are there to make sure you get all the financial help you are entitled too

The Macmillan Benefits Helpline is a telephone advice service for people with cancer, their family and carers who need help to access benefits and other kinds of financial support. Calls are answered by experienced benefits advisers who understand the effects of cancer and its treatments.


How can Macmillan Benefits Helpline help me?

The benefits advisers can:

  • check exactly which benefits you are able to claim
  • help you to fill in the necessary forms and make a claim
  • discuss any problems you have with your benefits
  • advise on other kinds of financial help, such as help with prescription costs.

You may be able to claim one or more types of financial help for example:

What do I have to do?

Call the Macmillan Benefits Helpline open at the following times:
Monday to Friday: 10am - 5pm 

Macmillan Benefits Helpline Freephone: 0808 801 0304

Advice is free and confidential.

People who are hard of hearing can contact the Macmillan Benefits Helpline via Typetalk. There is a translation service for people whose first language is not English.

You will be given as much help and support you with this important issue and be guided and supported with any claims you are able to make.

Like every part of life, the cancer journey is ultimately just that - a journey. It's not an easy one. It's not one we'd ever wish on our loved ones or on ourselves. It is something patients and their partners and carers have to work through, and with the correct help and support you will come through this.

I think the one golden rule we all need to remember is, If you feel in need of some extra support, ask for it”.