Caring for someone with cancer

On this page you will find information about what a carer does, how it feels to be a carer and links to information on:

  • Medical care
  • Practical care
  • Emotional care
  • How to take care of yourself
  • Caring for someone with advanced cancer, and
  • Life after caring for someone with cancer.

What does a carer do?

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, life changes for them, their family and their friends. Life also changes for you, the carer. A carer is an unpaid person who helps the patient with cancer. A carer could be a family member, partner, friend or neighbour. Nowadays patients spend less time in hospitals and more time at home. So carers are also important members of the medical or healthcare team.

Often, the carer knows most about the patient. For example, the patient's sleep patterns, when they usually start to feel uncomfortable or tired, how much they eat or drink, and how they are feeling. Your role as a carer may constantly change, depending on your loved one’s needs.

How does it feel to be a carer?

Some people get a lot of satisfaction from helping their loved one when they are sick. Becoming a carer often draws people together. You may even find that you become closer to your loved one during their illness. But becoming a carer can also be overwhelming. You may not want to be a carer. It is common to wonder ‘why me’ and feel trapped if you suddenly have to start caring for someone. Or, you may feel unprepared and unable to give the care that is needed. Know your limits and let other people know them too.

Every relationship is different and sometimes there are strains. When a loved one becomes sick, try to put past differences aside and focus on the present. Working together can even help to heal old wounds.

Click on the following links for more information on medical, practical and emotional care:

We also have information on other aspects of caring for someone with cancer:

Are you a young carer, aged under 25? We have extra information for younger carers.

Care Alliance Ireland have put together a helpful guide for carers called The Way Ahead. For a hardcopy of this guide, email

Date Last Reviewed: 
Monday, March 26, 2018