Partners, Family & Support People

When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, partners and other family members often suffer as much or even greater distress than the person with the cancer. As a partner you also face the shock of diagnosis, the concerns about surgery and other treatment, as well as fears for your loved one’s short and long-term well-being. You may have to take on the burden of extra household and carer duties for an extended period of time, face possible financial stress, experience a change in role in your relationship from partner to carer, and have to deal with feelings of loss and uncertainty.


It is common to feel helpless, frustrated, anxious, scared, sad or angry at this time but many partners do not want to further burden their loved one by sharing these feelings. Over time this may lead to increased levels of psychological distress which can cause issues with memory, concentration, disturbed sleep, fatigue and worrying thoughts.


It is very important for partners and support people to have an opportunity to express their feelings and concerns and not to brush them aside. It can be very beneficial to speak to a compassionate, understanding counsellor at this time who will listen, validate and normalise your feelings, assist you with simple techniques and strategies to manage your stress levels, and focus on your emotional well-being. It is important to take care of yourself so that you have the physical and emotional energy to care for your loved one.

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