Caring for someone close to you who has cancer is a demanding and often unrecognized role. The patient is undergoing the impact of the diagnosis, the challenge of treatment, and fear and uncertainty for the future. As the carer, you will be doing your best to support and encourage them, understanding that mood swings, depression, a need for privacy which can just as swiftly be followed by a need for closeness are all possible responses to a very difficult situation. The trouble is that you too will be responding to the anxiety that cancer provokes but probably finding it necessary to hide how it is affecting you. People often say that they can’t allow themselves to feel depressed, overstretched or exhausted and feel guilty that it should even be a problem. What have they to complain about compared with the patient?

However, it is important that carers also receive support and understanding because their role is such a crucial one. It is often very helpful to be able to talk through the feelings evoked by the situation with a counsellor who appreciates just how challenging it can be to be a carer. In addition, the hospital may run a support group for carers, Macmillan can tell you what is available in your area, and the national charity Carers UK has an information line and a support forum