If you are caring for someone with cancer, your own health and wellbeing are very important as well.

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Tips for looking after your own health

  • take some time for yourself each day
  • give yourself permission to treat yourself

  • eat healthy meals and snacks.

  • try to get enough rest - taking a warm bath or listening to relaxing music before bed may help

  • continue having check-ups with your own doctor

  • don’t use alcohol or cigarettes to deal with stress - these may make you feel better for a short time, but they cause other problems

  • exercise for 15–30 minutes each day - this will give you more energy, help you sleep better and improve your mood

  • see a doctor if you notice changes in your health such as fatigue (tiredness that doesn’t go away after resting), sleep problems, weight changes or depression

  • be clear with the person with cancer about what you can and cannot do to help them

  • take care of yourself if you are lifting, moving or physically supporting the person with cancer - get professional advice on safe ways to lift them

Cancer Society accommodation staff member making tea
Supportive Care nurse visiting a client
Bottom left: Cancer Society accommodation staff member making tea | Bottom right: Supportive Care nurse visiting a client
Top right: Cancer Society accommodation staff member making tea | Bottom right: Supportive Care nurse visiting a client

We all have our own ways of coping during bad times. However, many people supporting someone with cancer say they have times when they are ‘fed up’ and struggle to think how they can deal with the situation.

Sometimes you may feel like you could have handled a situation better. It’s okay to make mistakes. Remember that you’re doing the best you can.

The following tips may help you ‘hang in there’ and feel more in control:

  • try to plan one thing to look forward to every day, such as a catch up with a friend, a coffee date, time to yourself to read or go for a walk
  • learn to read the signs of stress and do something before it gets too serious – if you are waking up every night at 3am and can’t get back to sleep, it may be stress
  • allow yourself the time to feel and work through your emotions
  • don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • it is okay to feel angry, to cry and to let people see how you are feeling - you can’t be cheerful all the time

No matter how you’re feeling, support services are available to you. 

Terry’s way of coping was to get on with things whereas I wanted to talk things over and over. At times it was frustrating but I knew he was doing what he needed to do to manage his feelings

Need someone to talk to?
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0800 226 237 Information nurse

We know that going through cancer is tough and can raise many questions. You are not alone.

We have health professionals to answer your questions and provide the support you need. Get in touch

Last updated: January 9, 2023