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Being a caregiver for a loved one with breast cancer can be physically and mentally demanding. Please know that you are not alone in this situation, and here are some tips on overcoming challenges you might face.​​​​​​​



A study showed that the overwhelming caregiving tasks often put cancer caregivers under stress.1 Caregivers are likely called on to help make crucial treatment decisions within short time frames and communicate with the healthcare teams.1

The truth is, nobody is ever prepared for this role. The transition to adopting as a caregiver while juggling your existing responsibilities can be intense. So please be kind to yourself and be realistic about what you can do – your presence and effort in trying to be competent in caring duties will be appreciated by your loved one. Do forgive yourself for making mistakes and reach out for help when needed.​​​​​​​2


You may find yourself no longer going to social events like you used to. And you could be slowly losing touch with your friends and acquaintances.​​​​​​​3

Some people may stop talking to friends because they don’t think others understand how they feel. Or they are tired of repeating their situation. While others may feel guilty for spending time with others but not their loved ones.​​​​​​​3

However, isolation can damage your mental health over time.3 Please don’t feel that you have to give up on your social life. Make time for yourself and take regular breaks to pursue your hobbies, meet with family, friends and co-workers or just simply rest. This can help you stay positive and feel more in control of your responsibilities alongside being a caregiver. Support groups for caregivers can be another option for some.4


Many caregivers feel that they lack privacy at home. They often find themselves in a constant state where they have to be ready to help their loved ones when needed.​​​​​​​5

Hence it is important to set boundaries. If you can, have a small time frame each day as your “alone time”. In cases when you need longer breaks, but you are worried that your loved one is not adequately taken care of, or you feel guilty, try to discuss this with your loved one – to ensure they know what to expect and you can organize for the support they need beforehand.​​​​​​​2,5


Being a breast cancer caregiver can be physically demanding. You may have to help lift your loved one or help carry medical equipment or other items they may not have the energy for. Chances are you have had back pains, fatigue or more.4,5

As busy as you may get, please don’t forget to take care of your health. A regular sleep schedule, healthy eating habits and a simple workout routine can do you wonders. Don’t hesitate to seek medical help if necessary.​​​​​​​3,4


Caregivers are prone to depression due to stress and worries they experience when carrying out their caregiving duties. Studies have shown that caregivers are more likely to express depressive symptoms than cancer patients.​​​​​​​4,6

Caring for chronic conditions like cancer may make caregivers feel trapped, angry and frustrated with being unable to live their own life. Some may lash out at their loved ones or other people and feel guilty afterwards. Such negative emotions can weigh down on one’s self-esteem.​​​​​​​3,6

If you experience similar emotions, please don’t take your feelings as weakness and deny yourself the chance to get better. Unhealthy coping methods, such as over/undereating, drinking or taking drugs, will only make things worse. Instead, try exercising, meditation, finding support from family and friends, or seek professional help when necessary.​​​​​​​3,6


Medical costs can weigh heavy on your shoulders. Apart from treatment related costs, there are also other spending like transport to and from hospitals and buying home care equipment. Unfortunately, you may need to take time off work to care for your loved one. As caregivers are unpaid, you may have to cut back on other expenses.​​​​​​​4

Try to discuss and explain to your employer about your situation to see if you can adopt to a more flexible work schedule.


  1. National Cancer Institute (September 2016). Many Cancer Caregivers Report Feeling Unprepared for Caregiving Challenges. Retrieved from Accessed 24 March, 2022.
  2. Aegis Living (August 2018). Setting boundaries as a caregiver. Retrieved from​​​​​​​ Accessed 24 March, 2022.
  3. Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust (n.d.). Challenges as a carer and how to cope. Retrieved from Accessed 24 March, 2022.
  4. PDQ Cancer Information Summaries (March 2019). Family Caregivers in Cancer: Roles and Challenges. Retrieved from​​​​​​​ Accessed 24 March, 2022.
  5. American Senior Communities (October 2015). The Challenges Facing a Caregiver. Retrieved from​​​​​​​ Accessed 24 March, 2022.
  6. American Cancer Society (October 2019). If You’re About to Become a Cancer Caregiver. Retrieved from Accessed 24 March, 2022.


This health information is provided for reference only and is not intended to replace discussions with a healthcare provider.

All decisions regarding patient care must be made with healthcare provider.