Looking after a family can be hard work, even when you are well. Juggling family life with work, as well as coping with cancer and the emotions it can cause, may seem impossible. It can also feel difficult to support other people when you feel in need of support yourself.
Be realistic about what you can manage. Try to get help from a partner, your family or your friends before things become too much for you to cope with. Think about which duties you can give up for a short time. This may help you concentrate on coping with the cancer.
If you are a parent, you may not be able to do all the things you usually do for your children. This doesn’t mean you have failed in any way. It just means you need to plan your time and save your energy for the most important tasks.
Your family members may also be finding it difficult to cope with changes to family life. They will also have fears about the future. Try to talk openly about your concerns and how you can support each other.
If you have a partner
Being diagnosed with a serious illness can be difficult for you as an individual. If you have a partner, it can also affect them. Coping with cancer can put a strain on relationships. But some couples come to a new understanding and love for each other by overcoming a shared challenge like cancer.
Make time to talk and share your feelings with each other. This can help you understand each other better and feel closer.
If you are finding communication with your partner difficult, seeing a couples counsellor may make it easier to talk. We have details of useful organisations, including organisations that support lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people.
We have more information about the impact cancer can have on relationships, and what may help. This includes support if cancer or its treatment has had an impact on your sex life.
Talking to children about cancer
Deciding what to tell your children or grandchildren about your cancer is difficult. An open, honest approach is usually best. Even very young children can sense when something is wrong, and their fears can sometimes be worse than the reality.
Talking to your children may also relieve some of your own anxiety. You may have felt the need to hide where you have been going or physical symptoms, such as hair loss or tiredness. This can create extra stress.
How much you tell your children will depend on their age and how mature they are. It may be best to start by giving only small amounts of information, and gradually telling them more to build up a picture of your illness.
We have more information about talking to children and teenagers when an adult has cancer, including a video about talking to children.