Am I a carer?

Published: 06 November 2023

You might not describe yourself as a carer. But looking after someone with cancer can have an impact on your life. There is support and information available that can help.

Helen Jefferies Content Editor at Macmillan Cancer Support

Helen Jefferies Content Editor at Macmillan

“I’m not a carer…” 

“…I’m just doing what they would do for me if I was ill.” 
“…I’m just helping out my neighbour.” 
“…It’s just what you do for family.” 


More people than ever are living with cancer and with the late effects of cancer and treatment. And surrounding them is an invisible army of family and friends, providing essential everyday care and support. 
They might be helping with personal care such as washing and dressing. Perhaps they are looking after children or pets, or driving someone to their medical appointments. Or they might help with household tasks like laundry, cooking and cleaning. 


Whatever the task, these people have one thing in common: they might qualify as carers. 

Am I a carer after all? 

“In my community, family tends to look after the vulnerable. Each individual carer has different needs.” Nahida

A carer is someone who provides unpaid support to a partner, family member, friend or neighbour who could not manage without this help. 

You don’t have to live with the person you care for. And it doesn’t matter whether you are related to them, or whether you are the only person providing this kind of support. The important thing is that the person you care for could not cope without this kind of help. 

Why does it matter? 

You might not use the word ‘carer’. But if you do care for someone affected by cancer, it can have an impact on all parts of your life, including work, relationships and finances.
Whether you think of yourself as a carer or not, support is out there that could make caring a little easier. 

How Macmillan can help if you are supporting someone with cancer

Practical support 

We have information about looking after someone with cancer, including:

“My employer granted me carer’s leave and sick leave while Lucy was having treatment, but it wasn’t enough to cover the costs of travel and caring for a child. I honestly don’t think I would have been able to complete my DLA application on time without Macmillan’s support." Helga

Money and work advice 

We can offer advice about work and money, including: 
Our financial guides, welfare rights advisers and energy advice team can talk through your situation and suggest extra help you might be able to get.  You can contact them by phone for free on 0800 808 0000.

Find out more about our specialist support services, their opening times and the different ways you can contact them. 


Emotional support 

We understand that caring for someone with cancer can also be emotionally difficult. We have information and support to help you look after yourself, and to:

Talk with people in the same situation

Our online community is a free and safe environment where you can talk to people online who have similar experiences to yours. You can chat anonymously any time of day or night, seven days a week. You can also get advice and tips from health professionals, trained volunteers, and Macmillan staff who are also active in the community. Find out more about:


About our information

This information has been written Helen Jefferies from Macmillan's Cancer Information Development team and revised and edited by the Digital Content Team.

Learn more about how we produce our cancer information.

Image information: The main image is of Peter and his daughter. Peter sadly died in 2019 and we’d like to thank his daughter for allowing us to continue sharing his story, so others can benefit from Macmillan’s support.

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