How being a young carer can affect your emotions

Finding out that someone close to you has cancer can cause many emotions. A lot of people say that their first reaction was: ‘What’s going to happen? Will they recover?’ and then, ‘Are they going to die?’. You may be dealing with all kinds of emotions. For example, you may feel:

  • frightened about the future
  • sad and upset that this is happening to someone you love
  • exhausted or stressed because of the extra things you are doing
  • angry with the world, or with the person who has cancer
  • guilty, even though what is happening is not your fault
  • worried or down.

These are just some examples of how you may be feeling, but everyone is different. Feelings like these are natural when someone close to you has cancer.

Feeling up one minute and down the next (mood swings)

Every day is different when you are looking after someone with cancer. You will have good days and bad days.

Because you are going through such a confusing time, you may find you get mood swings. One minute you will be laughing with your friends, and the next you could burst into tears. This is perfectly normal. It can be hard to deal with every situation as it happens, and often your feelings hit you much later.

It can be difficult to explain your mood swings to people who don’t know that you are affected by cancer. You don’t have to explain your situation to anyone if you don’t want to. But it is often helpful to share what you are going through. You should only talk to people about it if you trust and feel comfortable with them.

Writing down your feelings

You might like to download this table and use it to write about your good and bad days. You could list things that make you feel happy or sad, and things that helped you to feel better. 

You can also think about things you can do to try to have more good days, and write these down too. This thinking tool was written by people affected by cancer. 

You can find more tools, stories and help using the tool at If you have any comments about this thinking tool, please email

As a young carer I feel both happy and sad.

Maisie, 10

Back to If you are a young person looking after someone with cancer


Counselling is support if you would like to talk to someone about your feelings.


You, or the person you look after, might feel very low at times.

Coping with death

Hearing that the person you are looking after is going to die can be very difficult, but there are people who can support you.