Those who care
There are close to a million people caring for someone with cancer in England, and at least half are not getting the support they need. Here, carers tell their stories of looking after their loved ones.
The government needs to look at carers and think: if they weren’t helping these people, who would be? If I wasn’t helping my mum, who would help her?
Sharon, cares for her mum
As a carer for her mum, Sharon can’t plan ahead. When she heard about her mum’s cancer diagnosis, she didn’t know where to turn to for help.
‘There needs to be more that people can access easily,’ says Sharon. 'When we first found out my mum was ill – I thought where do I start? I didn’t see myself as a carer so taking that on board and finding support was hard.’
Sharon, who was already caring for her son, had to change her working hours to make sure she could be there for her mum too, which has had a real impact on family finances. She says more needs to be done to make sure cancer carers are recognised and provided for.
'It’s been hard financially as it’s had an impact on what we do as a family in the long term.' she says.
'The government needs to look at carers and think: if they weren’t helping these people, who would be? If I wasn’t helping my mum, who would help her?'
I’ve had to give up work, money’s tight, and I feel so isolated. Nobody else sees just how much I do.
Joe, cares for his wife
Joe cares for his wife, Melita. He's struggled with lack of support, and has had to give up work.
'When I started caring for my wife, the NHS didn’t identify me as a carer. Not then and not now. I’ve had to give up work, money’s tight, and I feel so isolated. Nobody else sees just how much I do.
'There's no signpost [to information]. Suddenly you’re thrown in the deep end, and you do not know how your day, or your week, or your year is going to be. This is totally consuming... it’s quite a scary journey.'
The government needs to raise the profile, because at the moment you don’t hear about carers. You don’t hear about the people that support someone... we just do it.'
Jayne, who cares for husband Paul, says: ‘I think sometimes you are almost relied on to put on a brave face. You see things that you should never have to see and do things for the people you love that you should never have to do – but you do them, because that’s how you get through it.'
Hear from Jayne's husband, Paul, in our case study film.
Ian cared for his wife Kate after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 30. He says: ‘I wouldn’t class myself as a carer. I class myself as a husband, and it doesn’t matter if I’m caring for Kate when she’s got the flu or when she’s got cancer – I’m still the same person.’
Hear more of Ian and Kate’s story in our case study film.
I'm looking after someone and need support
No one should face cancer alone. If you are looking after a loved one with cancer we're here for you. You can find help and information in our pages for carers. You can also reach us on our helpline 0808 808 00 00.