Supporting someone with cancer

If you are looking after someone with cancer during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s likely that you will have questions and concerns.

If you support someone with cancer

You may be a carer for someone who has cancer. You may provide essential care such as washing, dressing, providing meals and giving medication. Or you may support them in other ways. You can still continue to care for someone in this group as long as you are well. You must:

  • wash your hands using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser
  • keep the place well ventilated
  • wear a face covering in shared spaces
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.

It is important to get your coronavirus vaccine as soon as you can. There is evidence that vaccination may reduce the chance of passing coronavirus on. Vaccinating the carers of people with cancer or people they live with could help to reduce their chance of catching or becoming very unwell with coronavirus.

If you or someone in your household develops symptoms of coronavirus such as a high temperature and/or a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste you need to follow the government guidelines for self-isolating.

If you are unwell, you may need to make other arrangements for their care. You can have plans in place in case you become unwell. Carers UK have information about making an emergency plan.
If the person you care for is in hospital, a care home or hospice you may be able to visit them if you follow certain rules. Staff  will be able to give you more information about arranging a visit and the rules to follow.

Looking after yourself

It is important to look after yourself as well as the person you are caring for.

There are things you can do to help look after yourself:

  • try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals and drink enough water
  • exercise regularly, and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs
  • try to get enough rest and sleep
  • do some things you enjoy – reading, listening to an audiobook, cooking, catching up on a favourite TV series or radio programme or podcast
  • keep in touch with people - this might be by email, phone, video calls, social media, post or our Online Community
  • having some people you can talk to about how you are feeling can help you feel supported and help your mental well-being.

The Every Mind Matters website has more information about looking after your mental health.

Coronavirus restrictions

It is understandable that this might be a worrying and uncertain time for people living with cancer. We have information about the support that's available, as well as advice to help you stay safe and cope with uncertainty. 

Read more about coronavirus restrictions.

Get support or talk to an expert

If something is worrying you and you need to talk, we're here to listen. From questions about coronavirus, to cancer treatment, to financial advice, we're here for you.

To speak to our experts, you can:

Find out more about the Macmillan teams that are here to support you.