Advice for Cancer Caregivers in a Supportive Role

SURVIVEiT Advice for Cancer Caregivers in a Supportive Role

Being a caregiver for a loved one with cancer is a momentous role for anyone to take on. So first, we want to say thank you. We want to recognize you for taking on this selfless role and all the emotions that come with it.

To help support you, we’ve created a resource of advice and tips for cancer caregivers in a supportive role.

If you are a caregiver and find yourself making more and more decisions, please see this article of advice for cancer caregivers in a decision-making role.

Advice for caregivers in a supportive role

Remember who received the diagnosis.

Sometimes it seems impossible to keep our opinions and wishes to ourselves. After all, we love this person so deeply and want the best outcome possible. We have to remember that we aren’t the ones with the cancer. By taking on this role, we agreed to support their decisions and their wishes. 

The truth is, it’s difficult for patients to express their wishes, fears, and goals without considering the opinions of others. The more you can encourage them to do that, the better off everyone will be. 

This is their journey. You are just playing a very important role.

However, if there is something you really wish to communicate with the patient, we recommend you asking them if you can share your feelings with them. They may be too tired in the moment and wish to discuss it tomorrow. They may tell you to share all of your feelings anytime you want. But let’s respect their situation and politely ask what they prefer.

Use all the resources available to you.

There is no shortage of information available on the internet – especially when it comes to cancer. We can spend hours on end searching Google for everything from finding experts to what to feed a patient that’s experiencing debilitating nausea.

In order to save you time and precious energy, we took the time to find the best resources available to help cancer patients and caregivers. You or your loved one can create an account in our Cancer Navigation Tool and find cancer survivor-vetted resources. These include resources for:

  • Finances
  • Education
  • Nutrition
  • Legal Support
  • Advocacy
  • Logistics
  • Caregivers
  • Survivorship
  • Books
  • End of Life

These resources can help you and your loved one during this difficult time. As a caregiver, there are resources specifically for you; practical, emotional, counseling and more.

“This is everything I needed when I was caring for my Dad throughout his cancer diagnosis.” – Joy, Caregiver


Delegate where you can and say ‘yes’ to help.

When others want to lend a hand, you can say ‘yes’. Friends and family may want to support you in one way or another, so take some help when it’s offered. 

A great thing to do is write down a list of areas that you can allow help. A few examples:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Rides to treatment
  • Meal delivery
  • Start a “wish list” of items that the patient or yourself might like (books, magazines, scarves, warm socks, etc.) Maybe link to our gift guide??
  • Cleaning the house or hiring help
  • Yard work
  • Tackling the running chore list around the house
  • If you like doing these things yourself, asking for someone to come visit with the patient while you do them can be great! Just be sure to check with the patient. They may want the quiet time. 🙂

Know How to Take care of yourself.

Remember to take time for yourself. We know you want to be there for your loved one at all times, but a healthier you is better for everyone. Many of us completely deplete ourselves when caring for cancer patients – it’s easy to do.

  • What would refill your cup? What would give you rest, energy, optimism, a clear head?
  • Keep yourself healthy. If you start to feel ill (physically or mentally), don’t ignore it.
  • Process your emotions and thoughts by keeping a journal or speaking with someone outside of your household.
  • When talking with someone, tell them upfront what you need from them. Example: “I really just need to vent for 30 minutes, and then I want to talk about something NOT related to cancer.” or “I had this difficult conversation this week. Can you tell me what you think?”


SURVIVEiT Advice for Caregivers in a Supportive Role