Common carer relationships
You can also view a video produced by Moments that Matter, featuring Aidan sharing his experience of caring for his wife.
Changes in sexuality and intimacy
You might feel your relationship with the person you are supporting has changed. If the person is your partner, cancer may have affected your sexual relationship and you might miss physical intimacy. Here is information from the Cancer Council on how to manage changes in sexuality and intimacy.
CarerHelp has developed a series of videos featuring Jessica sharing her experience caring for her mother and the emotional impact.
The following video produced by Carers Australia is Jessica’s experience caring for her mother.
Redkite shares several stories of children with cancer and some of their challenges.
Talking with kids about cancer
Explaining a diagnosis of cancer to children or teenagers can feel difficult and overwhelming. The Cancer Council has developed a guide to help – Talking with kids about cancer.
Common emotions and feelings
Although everyone is different, you may experience these common feelings at different points in time.
You may feel angry and frustrated for lots of reasons, e.g., having future plans disrupted, managing extra responsibilities, a shift in the nature of the relationship.
You might feel your relationship with the person you are supporting has changed. You may feel loss for how the relationship used to be and the activities that you may be unable to now do together. It is also natural to miss activities that you personally used enjoy, such as work, study, regular exercise / sport, socialising with friends or volunteering.
Guilt is one of the most common emotions that you may experience. You might feel guilty about being well, saying the wrong thing, feeling like you are not doing enough or wanting to take a break.
It is normal to feel alone and isolated. You may feel no one understands what you are going through. Perhaps you did a lot with the person with cancer and you miss spending special time together.
A lot of the focus is directed to the person you are supporting. Appointments, transport, answering countless questions from other family / friends, administering medications, attending to personal care for your loved one. This can make you feel like you have lost your identity and that you are invisible in the world.
If any of these feelings resonate for you as a support person, you can read more and ways to manage from Cancer Council Victoria.
The responsibility of looking after someone with cancer may mean that you ignore your own needs. It is so important to take care of yourself. Here are some tips for coping from the Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre.
Here you will find some self-care strategies from the Cancer Council.
- Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre
- Cancer Council
- Carer Gateway
- Carers Australia
- Carer’s Circle support group, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
- Pancare Foundation
- Carers Couch
- Cancer Council podcast episode - Cancer Affects the Carer Too
- Cancer Council podcast episode - How to Help Someone with Cancer
- Cancer Council podcast episode - Family Dynamics and Cancer
- Parents Matters Program
- Younger Carers Network – stories (<25 years)
- Canteen – guide on supporting partners
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Screening tool references
Kessler, R.C., Barker, P.R., Colpe, L.J., Epstein, J.F., Gfroerer, J.C., Hiripi, E., Howes, M.J, Normand, S-L.T., Manderscheid, R.W., Walters, E.E., Zaslavsky, A.M. (2003). Screening for serious mental illness in the general population Archives of General Psychiatry. 60(2), 184-189.
Adapted from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Distress Thermometer. Available from: https://www.nccn.org/docs/default-source/patient-resources/nccn_distress_thermometer.pdf?sfvrsn=ef1df1a2_4