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.

There are a few simple ways you can support yourself:

  • Set a limit on the amount of time you spend with the person with cancer.
  • Have a rest if you’re tired. This may seem obvious but many people push on despite their tiredness, only to feel exhausted later. It’s important to get enough sleep, too.
  • Give yourself time to do what you want to do and what will energise you – this may include gardening, going for a walk, listening to music, reading or watching a favourite film.

Many people find that they also 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. You can also contact our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00 or join our online community.

Supporting someone with cancer and knowing what to say and do may be unfamiliar to you. Every person is unique, and there is no one formula for success. We all do the best we can. Above all, it’s important to remember that it’s the care and compassion that you support your loved one or friend with that they will value most.

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.