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Today is the start of Carers Week. In this blog, our editor Emma talks the different types of support available to you if you are looking after someone with cancer.
Living with cancer is not easy. But caring for someone with cancer can be a big challenge too – both practically and emotionally.
If you give unpaid support to someone who could not manage without your help, you may be a carer. This could be your family member, partner, friend, or neighbour. You might be doing their shopping or helping them to take their medicine. You could be helping them to wash or driving them to appointments. You may be doing this every day, or a few times a week. And you may not be the only carer – there may be a few people helping out. Caring can mean many things, and every situation is different.
But not everyone sees themselves as a carer. You may think you are just doing your bit to help, but recognising that you are a carer can be the first step in getting the support you might need. This Carers Week, we are talking about supporting carers to look after their loved ones well, and recognising that carers need support with their own needs too.
Practical supportAs a carer, you may need to help the person you are looking after with everyday tasks, such as washing, dressing and cooking. You may need special equipment or an extra pair of hands to help with these tasks. It’s important to find out if you’re entitled to any help from social services – by having something called a carer’s assessment. You might be able to get money for equipment, help from a paid carer or respite care. If you cannot access this kind of help, think about asking family or friends to sit with the person you care for, just for a few hours. Or contact some voluntary organisations and charities to get more support. It’s so important to give yourself a break. Having some time for yourself can help you to relax and feel able to cope better, which can also help the person you’re caring for.
If you are also working, it’s important to know your rights at work. You have the right to ask for flexible working, which could mean working from home or working different hours.
Caring for someone can also affect your finances. If you are worried about money, there is support available. There are financial benefits and credits you may be able to get as a carer. You might also want to check whether the person you are looking after is entitled to any financial help.
Emotional supportLooking after someone you care about can cause many different feelings and emotions. Some people find that coming to terms with cancer brings them closer together. Others may find it very difficult. You’re probably having good days and bad days, and maybe arguing or getting frustrated. Trying to be open about how you feel can help both of you cope better and feel more in control. It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and there is no right or wrong way to cope. We all have different support networks. Whether yours is your family, your partner, a friend or a social group, try to talk to someone about how you are feeling. You might find it easier to talk to someone you don’t know. Think about talking to a counsellor, joining a support group for carers, using our Online Community to chat with other carers online. Talking to other people going through similar things to you could really help.
More information and supportIf you are looking after someone with cancer, we have information to help support you. We have advice about the practical, financial and emotional issues you might face as a carer, and suggest ways to cope with them. We also suggest ways you can take care of yourself.
Our information comes in a range of different formats, so you can choose the best format for you:
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We're with you every step of the way
The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.
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My Husband has been discharged from the hospital they say their is nothing more they can do, Our Dr has said to make an appointment if my Husband gets any symptoms, he has bowel spread to his live and pelvis, we feel after all the hospital treatment and visits we have been cast out in the ocean in a dingy, We don't know how long he has and he doesn't want to know and I understand at the moment we are running around like headless chickens trying to cover his bucket list. I am frightened because I am going to lose the person I love and I went through this 27 years ago when I was 38 and it's a place I am frightened to be at and to watch My other half suffer is more than your mind can take in. How do I do this I need to be strong but I am not going into this blind I know some of whats coming/ I need help but I can't show him how frightened I am/,
Hi Liz, I'm very sorry for what you are going through. I understand what you mean about feeling cast out on a dingy. My father only had 2 meetings with oncologists since his diagnosis of advanced lung cancer in March and during the second appointment we were told there was no point in seeing them again. My dad didn't want to know about time either so I have driven myself half mad researching pub bed articles online etc and constantly searching for signs of new symptoms. It is frightening and you do need some emotional support yourself, to help you stay strong. You can do it.we were also told That we could contact out if hours GP or a&e if needs be. I am shocked and feel as you do, totally abandoned and out on a limb. I do hope you have family or friends supporting you emotionally. Be sure to talk or see them if you can if even for a short time as obviously you need to be with your husband. We got the hospice involved but they only operate between 9-5 mon to Friday. They are good for organised medications though. I joined this site after reading some posts from ordinary people going through the same and I think you should find a lot of support on here too. Sorry I'm quite tired writing this but just wanted to send you hugs and strength. You are not alone. Hope your husband is as comfortable as possible. look after yourself.
So first time at this, I'm lost. Physically and mentally my dad was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and vascular dementia all in one go. The lung cancer they gave us a diagnoses of just a few months no treatment just go home and make memories. Today I've been told that I'm suffering from depression and anxiety is it normal to feel lost normally I can cope with anything. I just carnt grasp this overwhelming feeling of panic that I'm loosing my dad
Hello Liz, Gracey and Violet. Sorry that we haven’t replied sooner. We are sorry to hear about everything that is happening with you just now. Everything you are feeling at the moment is completely normal. You might find it reassuring to have a read of our information about your feelings when someone close to you has cancer. We also hope you keep getting support from all of the wonderful people on the Online Community. If you feel you need more support, please call our support line on 0808 808 00 00. They will listen to any worries you have, and help where they can. Take care of yourselves.
Hello I’m really struggling right now . Hubby was first diagnosed 6 years ago with bowel cancer and again last year with a further tumour had surgery again December 2017 . The cancer has now spread his stomach and liver he’s been having palliative chemotherapy . We never talk about his diagnosis I think he’s in denial thankfully I have friends who I can sound off to . I’m struggling and feel gry this is happening and it’s not his fault
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