Looking after yourself

Supporting a person with cancer can be very rewarding and can bring you closer together. But it can also be demanding and sometimes upsetting. It’s important to make sure that you look after yourself and have the support you need. We have more information about coping when someone close to you has cancer.

Supporting yourself

If you’re tired, it’s important to rest. This may seem obvious but many people carry on, despite their tiredness, only to feel exhausted later. It’s also important to get enough sleep.

Give yourself time to do things you enjoy on a regular basis. This will help you feel rested and relaxed. Try to include things that:

  • involve keeping in touch with other people, such as having lunch with a friend
  • give you a sense of accomplishment, such as exercising or finishing a project
  • make you feel good or relaxed, such as watching a funny film.

Help from others

Many people find that they benefit from the support of others. This is nothing to be ashamed of and you shouldn’t feel you’ve failed if you need some support to deal with your own emotions. Sometimes talking to another family member or friend can be enough. Or you may find it helpful to talk with your relative or friend’s specialist nurse. They will be able to tell you if there are any local support organisations or counselling services that may be suitable for you.

If your employer has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), you can contact a counsellor that way. You can also contact our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00 or an organisation such as Samaritans, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy or the UK Council for Psychotherapy who can give you more information and support.

If you have access to the internet, you may want to join an online support group or chat room for people affected by cancer. Our online community is a site where you can chat to other people, blog about your experiences, make friends and join support groups. You can share your own thoughts and feelings, and get support too.

Supporting someone with cancer may be something new to you. Every person is unique and there is no one way to get it right. It’s important to remember that it’s your care and compassion that your relative or friend will value most.

As a carer for someone with cancer, one of the most important things I have learnt is that you also need to focus time and energy on yourself.


Back to If someone has cancer

Talking and listening

Talking and listening can help your loved one make sense of difficult experiences.

How to talk

If your friend or relative has cancer, talking openly will help you understand their experience and build mutual trust.