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Living with cancer

Cancer can affect your daily life in different ways. It depends on the stage of your cancer and the treatment you're having.

Things that can help you include:

  • talking to your friends and family
  • talking to other people in the same situation
  • knowing about your condition
  • not trying to do too much
  • making time for yourself

Specific support is available for the type of cancer you have.

Cancer specialist nurses

When you're treated for cancer, your specialist team should have at least 1 cancer nurse specialist (CNS).

Ask your doctor to arrange for you to see a specialist nurse. They can support you. They'll give you information about other sources of advice and support.

Emotional effects and relationships

Having cancer can lead to a range of emotions.

You may feel:

  • shock
  • anxiety
  • relief
  • sadness
  • depression

People deal with serious problems in different ways. It's hard to predict how living with cancer will affect you.

Be open and honest about how you feel. Tell your family and friends what they can do to help you. This may put them at ease. But do not feel shy about telling people that you need some time to yourself, if that's what you need.

Talk to others

Your Clinical Nurse Specialist or GP may be able to reassure you if you have questions.

You may also find it helpful to talk to a:

  • trained counsellor
  • psychologist
  • specialist phone helpline - your GP surgery will have information on these
  • local support group

If you have feelings of depression, talk to your GP.

National Cancer Support organisations

The following organisations provide information, phone support and local support centres:

Money and financial support

You may be entitled to financial support if you have cancer or are caring for someone with cancer.

If you have cancer

If you have a job but cannot work because of your illness, you may be entitled to sick pay from your employer.

If you do not have a job and cannot work because of your illness, you may be entitled to:

  • Illness Benefit
  • Partial Capacity Benefit
  • Disability Allowance
  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance

Apply for benefits -

If you're caring for someone with cancer

If you're caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to Carer's Allowance.

Carer's allowance -

You may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home or you have a low household income.

It's a good idea to find out what help is available to you soon after your diagnosis. Ask to speak to the social worker at your hospital. They can give you more information.

Schemes and allowances

Your illness may mean you are entitled to a Medical Card.

Apply for a Medical Card

You may also be eligible for:

Benefits and schemes that can help with healthcare costs

Palliative care

If your cancer is terminal, your GP and specialist team can give you support and pain relief. This is called palliative care.

Support is also available for your family and friends.

As the cancer progresses, your doctor should work with you on a clear management plan. They'll base this on you and your carer's wishes.

This can include whether you'd prefer to:

  • go to hospital
  • go to a hospice
  • be looked after at home as you become more ill

The plan will take account of:

  • what services are available to you locally
  • what your doctors advise
  • your personal circumstances

Page last reviewed: 15 April 2021
Next review due: 15 April 2024

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.