Why support for cancer carers is crucial

05 Apr 2023

Why support for cancer carers is crucial.

Cancer carers play an essential role in helping patients navigate the sometimes-challenging road to recovery. While there’s no denying their treatment journey is difficult, sometimes the carer needs a little TLC too. Here’s how to make sure you fill your bucket before taking care of those you love.

Carers have a vital role in the cancer treatment process, they may manage the physical and emotional needs of cancer patients in everyday tasks such as bathing and preparing meals. During or post-treatment, a cancer patient may need assistance doing these activities, whether it’s physical or practical help. 

They do more than just assist with everyday tasks: a cancer carer also provides emotional support and companionship during what can be a lonely and very challenging time. They may also act as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the patient, by anticipating – and responding to – the needs of those they are looking after. 

On a practical level, they are relied on by both the medical staff and the person in their care, to track and evaluate the effectiveness of the cancer treatment their patient is undergoing. 

Due to the varied requirements of their role, it’s common for a carer to develop strong relationships with their cancer patients and their families, forging strong relationships that are based on trust, companionship and understanding.


Challenges faced by cancer carers

The role of a cancer carer brings with it many unique challenges, including the physical burden of assisting with cancer treatments, such as administering medication and driving a patient to appointments. It’s imperative then, that the cancer carer is fit and strong to be able to do these tasks. Their practical help may also be required to advise or support their patient in employment, legal or financial issues, which can cause additional, and unwanted, stress. 

There is a large emotional demand to be had too. The carer is the literal shoulder for their patient to lean or cry on, as they help them to navigate these difficult and sometimes confusing diagnoses and treatment plans. Their skills as a carer involve providing this emotional support to their patient, and oftentimes to the family and friends too, who are looking for guidance and direction. 


How to support a cancer carer

Even carers need to be cared for! Thankfully, there are many resources available to help cancer carers thrive and survive in this challenging role. Additionally, the understanding and support from family, friends and medical professionals can go a long way in enabling a carer to successfully navigate their challenging role. Cancer caregivers must receive both practical and emotional support throughout their journey.

The simplest way friends and family can help support the carer and patient is to volunteer assistance with cooking, cleaning, and/or providing transportation to appointments. These small gestures can free up a carer's time to invest in other areas their patient may need them. 

Support groups can also be a great resource for cancer caregivers, providing opportunities to connect with others who understand what they are going through. Additionally, cancer clinics often have social workers or other specialists who offer counselling and support services tailored specifically to cancer caregivers.

While the path ahead may seem daunting at times, the role of a cancer caregiver is critical to ensuring the best possible outcomes for patients. Whether by talking through difficulties with other caregivers or accessing specialised counselling services, it is important that cancer caregivers feel confident in their ability to provide care for their loved ones.

By providing support, compassion, and understanding for those facing cancer and their caregivers, we can ease their journey through this difficult time and help ensure that they receive the support they need to make it through.

As a leading not-for-profit organisation in Australia, Pink Hope is committed to providing resources and community support to all people affected by cancer. We are here to provide hope, inspiration and empowerment with every step of the way.

To learn more about the role and supportive needs of a carer listen to our Pink Hope - The Empowered Patient Project Podcast ~ Carers matter too.

This content is brought to you in partnership with Eli Lilly Australia and developed independently by the team at Pink Hope.