Being a partner or carer to a loved one with cancer comes with a lot of responsibilities.

To help, we’ve put together information on many of the biggest challenges you take on, including:

  • How to manage medications
  • How to communicate with your loved one’s health care team
  • Dealing with legal and financial issues, and
  • Handling other issues you may encounter

Managing medications

Cancer treatment usually involves taking a lot of medicine. As well as taking drugs that attack the cancer, people with cancer may need relief for pain, nausea, low blood counts and other treatments - or cancer-related symptoms.

Sometimes, people with cancer need to take up to 20 medications every day. Keeping track of these medications can be a challenge.

Being organised will help you to make sure your loved one is taking the right medication at the right time.

More time at home, more responsibilities

Your loved one will spend more time at home than in the hospital – and, this means you need to play a role in helping to manage ongoing conditions and treatments, like:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Tiredness
  • Pain
  • Nutrition
  • Appetite loss

Communicating with radiation oncologists

Your loved one may need help when it comes to talking to their medical team. This might be because they need help understanding – or, it could be for another reason, like age, illness or inability.

If the person you’re caring for can’t communicate, you will be asked to step in, listen, ask questions and tell the medical team about the care status.

Here’s how you can make this process as effective and useful as possible:

  • Keep notes during appointments – note down what was said, any specific advice you were given – and keep your information in the same notebook so there’s only one location for all the important information
  • Ask as many questions as you can – your medical team encourage this, and there’s no such thing as too many questions
  • Write down talking points when you think of them – you might forget crucial questions during appointments, so keeping a list can be helpful

Other issues

There will be a lot of paperwork to manage, and this is often one of the biggest jobs carers take on.

You will also need to be aware of other issues impacting your loved one, such as medical or sick leave, income protection insurance, health insurance, and any financial advice.