Young carers

Young daughter with sick mother in bed

You’re special.

If you’re caring for someone with cancer, you’re doing an amazing thing. Caring can:

  • Bring your family closer together.

  • Make you realise what’s important in life.

  • Help you to develop all kinds of skills and strengths.

Young carers are children, teens and young adults aged under 25 who help to support a family member or friend with cancer.

Caring can be difficult

Helping to look after someone with cancer can also be a big challenge for anyone. If you are a young carer, it can be even harder.

  • It can be hard work – Being a carer may mean you have a lot of extra jobs and responsibilities. For example, you may have to do household jobs like cooking or cleaning, or give nursing care.

  • It can make it school or college more difficult – You may be tired from caring, worried or feeling emotional, which can make it harder to get to classes or lectures, concentrate or find time for homework or assignments.

  • It can affect your performance at work – You may be too tired or worried to perform at your best, or you may miss work or find it hard to get into work on time.

  • You may feel left out or frustrated – You may not be able to go out with your friends as much as you’d like, or you may feel that they don’t understand what you’re going through.

  • You may have a lot of stress – You may be worried about your loved one’s health or feel overwhelmed by your caring responsibilities. It may be hard for you to relax.

  • You may be confused – There can be a lot to learn about illness, medication and caring when someone has cancer.  It can be hard to make sense of medical language, hospitals and the health system.

  • You may feel down or overwhelmed by your feelings – When someone close to you is unwell it can bring up a lot of strong emotions. And being a carer, too, can be difficult on your emotions.

You are not alone

Teenage boy talking with a doctor

You are not alone if you’re having any of these difficulties. There are many young people caring for a family member, and these type of problems are quite common.

Getting help and support

You are probably very busy if you’re a carer, but it’s worth taking a bit of time to find out what kind of help and support may be available in your area.

Using whatever help is there can make things easier for you. For example, you may be able to get:

  • Some help at home, so there’s less for you to do.

  • A break (respite) from your caring.

  • Extra time to do your school work or college assignments.

  • Information on managing money.

  • Advice about benefits you may be entitled to, including carer allowances and study grants / bursaries.

  • Support with finding a job or managing your work and caring.

  • Counselling to help you cope with your feelings and manage better.

For information on help and support

  • Go to www.youngcarers.ie/Supports for a list of helpful supports and services.

  • Ask your teacher or another trusted adult to help you to find out about any services that can help you.

  • If you’re in college, make contact with the Access Service for social, academic and financial support.

  • You can also call our cancer nurses on Freephone 1800 200 700 or email cancernurseline@irishcancer.ie.

Talking about your feelings

Two young people sitting on a beach

They say a problem shared is a problem halved. Talking about how you’re feeling – with a friend or family member, or someone like a counsellor, can be a great relief and may help you to feel better.

You could also make contact with other young carers – people going through a similar experience who understand how you feel. You could make contact online or through support organisations or support groups.

For information on counselling

  • Contact Young Carers Ireland to see what’s available. The phone numbers and email addresses are below.

  • Call our Nurseline for more information on free counselling at local cancer support centres. Call 1800 200 700, or email the nurses at cancernurseline@irishcancer.ie

  • Ask to talk to the school guidance counsellor

  • Meet regularly with the student counsellor / access service if you’re in college

Youngcarers.ie

Family Carers Ireland have a special website for young carers aged 18 and under: www.youngcarers.ie. It has lots information and advice. You can also watch videos about other young carers’ experiences.

Family Carers Ireland Young Carers Service can help you with:

  • Information and advice. For example handling stress and managing school

  • An assessment of your needs and a personal care plan

  • Peer mentoring (help from other young people)

  • Respite activity breaks

  • School supports

  • Young carers’ groups

  • Help with getting support and services

  • Counselling

  • Training

To contact Family Carers Ireland Young Carers Service Call 1800 24 07 24.

Irish Cancer Society cancer nurses

A Cancer Nurse on the phone

You can talk to one of our cancer nurses in confidence if you have any worries or questions, or if you need help getting support. You can call us on Freephone 1800 200 700, or email us on cancernurseline@irishcancer.ie.

There are also Daffodil Centres in some hospitals, where you can talk to a cancer nurse about anything at all, or pick up booklets with information about cancer.

Caring for someone with cancer booklet

Caring for someone with cancer bookletWe have a booklet for people caring for a loved one with cancer.

If you would like a free copy, call in to a Daffodil Centre or call our Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700.

You can also read or download it here.