Primary carer for mum with Cancer


I'm not sure if I'm asking the right people but, I thought I'd give it a go. 

Mum was diagnosed with lung cancer for a second time in April. She had part of her lung removed in Dec 2020 and was fine after but now it's come back. She is currently undergoing Chemo and Radiotherapy for 6.5 weeks. She was doing well but has this week been admitted to hospital for severely low blood count and platelets and low immunity.

I am my mums primary carer. I work full time and have a family to support. Unfortunately I seem to keep falling ill. As a primary school teacher, it's easy to pick things up especially when under stress. This week I've been suffering with laryngitis and cough, not the best as a teacher. And obviously I can no longer be a support to my mum incase she catches anything. I hate taking time off work but have had to sucome to it. I have given myself until Friday at home. Is this enough or should I be giving myself a break and asking for a sick note from my GP? I'm afraid to ask them, but also afraid that if I don't imgoing to continue to be ill and no help to my mum. 

  • Hello 

    My name is Stacey and I am an adviser for the Work Support team and I hope to  address some of your concerns about  work.

    I’m sorry to hear about your mum’s diagnosis and as she will be going through quite a lot of treatment I’m sure that you feel you need to be there to support her. As you say, you also need to be feeling fit to balance the needs of your mum, support your family and maintain your job and you obviously have worries about your mum’s exposure to any possible infection. If you yourself are feeling unwell you may want to see your GP. Your good health is important as you will need to maintain that work-life balance.

    I have forwarded your query to our team of nurses where they can reply to you about protecting your mum against infection.

    With regards to your questions about work, could I ask if your school has a policy for carers? If your school is local authority, maintained or private, it is worth checking to see if any time off can be taken by carers. 

    I’m assuming that you will have about 6 weeks more of your term before the school summer holidays – which is just the time your mum is having the treatment. Have you spoken with school management about whether it is possible to take any time off as a carer?

    If you are in a trade union they may also be able to support you with this.

    I am going to tell you generally about your rights as a carer but the school may offer more than this or can sometimes use their discretion.

    Carers have the right to ask for flexible working, providing they have 26 weeks continuous employment and when the formal process is followed, carers have the right to make 1 request per annum.  It is important to note, that the employer does not have to agree to this if it adversely affects their organisation. Carers also have the right to take a reasonable amount of time off for emergencies to help the person they are caring for (carers don't have a statutory right for this to be paid but may have a contractual one).   This is for occasions where you might have to leave work suddenly to deal with the needs of the person you are caring for, rather than for planned appointments.

    Please find the link here for information on this and other rights such as protection against associative discrimination. It also gives examples of the type of leave you might want to request: Working Whilst Caring For Someone With Cancer 

    It also describes how carers have protection under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 if you live in Northern Ireland or the Equality Act 2010 if you live in England, Scotland or Wales. 

    Here is link from the Citizens Advice website which describes your protection under the above acts, but also includes some useful general information on support for carers:

    I hope that you have found the above information useful but if you would like to contact us again, you can reply to this message, contact us through webchatemail us or you can call us on the Macmillan Support Line. The Work Support team are available from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday on 0808 808 0000 option 1, then 2, then 3.





    Work Support Adviser

    Remember, you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am – 8pm) or by email.

  • Hi

    Thanks for your reply, it's really helpful. I work in a Local Authority school and as I've never needed it, I have no idea if the school has a policy regards carers. I amin a trade union, so I will perhaps call them. Thanks

  • Hi RCheerful

    My name is Susan and I am one of the Macmillan Cancer Information Nurse Specialists. I can see that you have been in contact with our work support advisors and pleased to hear that you have found this helpful.

    I’m sorry to hear that you have been suffering with laryngitis and a cough sometimes this can take a while to resolve and time for you to feel better, you may want to go back to see your GP just to check that things are okay and have a talk through whether you having some extra time off of work would be beneficial to you.

    Looking after someone with cancer can be a big change in your life and it is important to look after your own wellbeing and health needs especially if you are balancing caring with other things such as working and caring for your family.

    I hope that your mum is feeling better and that she is discharged from hospital soon and that you recover from your laryngitis.

    Take care, 

    Susan M, Cancer Information Nurse Specialist 

    You can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or send us an email.