If you’re caring for someone whose cancer can’t be cured, you might be feeling lost, confused, alone or unsure where to turn. This blog contains useful information and practical advice that we hope will help.

You may have lots of worries right now. Maybe you’re questioning whether you have the physical or emotional strength to cope. Or thinking that it will be difficult to manage practically at home. It’s important to remember that there is support available for you – you are not alone.

But there’s so much to think about, where do you start? Where can you find the information you need about practical issues. And where can you get the support you need for you and the person you’re caring for? A good starting point is our booklet Caring for someone with advanced cancer. It includes information about the practical aspects of caring and the impact it can have on you as a carer, along with details of the medical and social help available.

Below are some of the main things you might wish to think about – aspects of everyday care, who can help you, planning ahead, and making sure you look after yourself too.

It’s taken us a long time to get there, but nowadays we can really talk about what’s going to happen and how we feel about it. Sometimes we don’t need to say anything. We can just sit there together holding hands. It’s very comforting somehow.

Everyday care

There are many ways you may be involved in caring for your relative or friend at home. These include managing everyday practical things such as washing, bathing, dressing and toilet needs, and also dealing with symptoms such as pain, dietary problems or nausea. We have lots of practical information about these issues and others. If you’re providing emotional support too, you might find our web pages about being there for someone with cancer helpful. This can all be very overwhelming, so it’s important to keep yourself as well as possible – there’s more about this below.

Who can help?

Caring for someone is very hard work, both physically and emotionally. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The more support you have, the better equipped you’ll be to care for your loved one, and the more you can focus on quality time together.

There are a number of people who can help you in various ways, such as family and friends and voluntary organisations. You may need some respite care to allow you to re-energise. In addition, your loved one or you may be entitled to financial help – there are several different benefits and allowances out there. You should claim as soon as possible so that you don’t lose out.

Planning ahead

The person you’re caring for may want to talk to you about where they want to be cared for when they die and what treatments they do or don’t want to have. This is known as advance care planning. You may find our booklet Your life and your choices: plan ahead useful. It explains why planning ahead can help and how to go about it. It also talks about things such as organ donation, will writing and funeral planning. Another helpful booklet is End of Life: a guide.

Looking after yourself

It’s important that you look after yourself as well as the person you care for. There are many ways you can do this, including taking breaks, making time for you, eating well, or joining a support group. You may find our publications for carers useful: Hello, and how are you? A guide for carers, by carers and Let’s talk about you (for young carers).

Looking after someone you care about can cause you to have many different feelings and emotions. Some people find that coming to terms with advanced cancer together brings them closer. But if you both find it hard to talk about your feelings, it may be easier to bring in a third person to help you, such as a trusted friend or counsellor.

Talk to us

I sometimes wonder if the world is still out there. People ring me and call in from time to time, but some days I feel so cut off.

Always remember that you are not alone!

The Macmillan team is with you every step of the way – if you’d like to talk to someone, please get in touch with us. Or join our Carers only online community group, where you can share your experiences, meet others in similar situations, ask questions and make friends.

Knowing what to say is difficult for everyone who is affected by cancer. But finding the courage to talk to someone could make all the difference to your cancer journey.

We hope this blog has helped you find the support you need. If you need any further help, please call us on 0808 808 00 00. We’re here for you.

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