Many Australians diagnosed with breast cancer will have a partner, family member or friend who provides regular support, personal care or assistance to them, both during and after treatment.
There are almost 2.7 million carers in Australia, however many people who provide support to someone with breast cancer do not see themselves as a ‘carer’.
If you know someone diagnosed with breast cancer, you may feel like you are just doing what is right by helping out. You may clean their house, cook meals or drive them to appointments – all tasks that carers do.
The role of the carer in the breast cancer experience is incredibly important. To go through any major life crisis without support is isolating and detrimental to the individual's health and wellbeing. The role of the carer becomes very important right from the start in offering support and hope.
It is normal for many carers to experience a range of complex and difficult emotions along the cancer journey. It is important to know that you are not alone facing the challenges associated with being a carer. BCNA has compiled the below information and support for carers, including a video series and fact sheets to guide you in caring for someone with breast cancer.
Please take some time to look through the two videos below. Each video has an accompanying fact sheet that covers most of the topics mentioned in the videos.
In this video, Psycho-Oncologist Jane Fletcher explains the range of emotions carers may be feeling following a family member or friend's breast cancer diagnosis.
Carers of women with breast cancer also talk about the practical ways they have helped during their loved one's cancer journey.
Watch Caring for someone with early breast cancer - what to expect and how to help (with captions).
You can also download a fact sheet, Caring for someone with early breast cancer: what to expect and how to help.
In this video, Psycho Oncologist Jane Fletcher and carers of people with breast cancer talk about the importance of taking time out to care for your own health and wellbeing during your loved one's breast cancer journey. They also mention practical tips and ways you can look after yourself and seek support.
Watch You’re important too - looking after yourself as a carer (with captions).
You can also download a PDF of You're important too - looking after yourself as a carer.
People often tell us that they feel shock, disbelief, fear and uncertainty when diagnosed with breast cancer. As the partner of a person who has been diagnosed, your feelings can be similar.
It’s normal for partners to feel overwhelmed and to experience a whole range of emotions: shock, numbness, uncertainty, fear, helplessness, sadness, anger, depression or anxiety.
There is advice on how to support a partner with breast cancer as well as tips on looking after yourself on Information for partners.
LGBTIQ+ partners can have unique needs and concerns in addition to the concerns that all partners experience. You may worry about how members of the treatment team respond to LGBTIQ+ couples.
You may also be concerned about being excluded from important decisions involving your partner or not being recognised as a partner or carer by health professionals. It is helpful to seek care from a medical team who is sensitive to your needs, respects your privacy and encourages you to be involved.
Specific information and support for same-sex couples can be found on Information for same-sex partners.
Other than partners, family members can also take on a caring role, either as a sole carer or someone who shares caring responsibilities with others. You might find it helpful to get access to practical support, counselling and peer support.
Carers Australia has information and advice for carers and their families about carer supports and services. Call Carer Gateway 1800 422 737.
Young Carers Australia provides information and support for carers up to the age of 25.
If you’re a friend or colleague of a person diagnosed with breast cancer, it may be hard to know how to help or support them on this journey.
Read BCNA’s fact sheet, Resources for people who are caring for someone with breast cancer: information and support - a comprehensive and helpful list of information resources, organisations and services for carers.
See Talking to family and friends if you've been diagnosed with breast cancer and want advice on telling your loved ones. The page also contains useful information for friends, family and colleagues.
See Cancer Council Australia - Caring for someone with cancer.
Visit Services Australia for support available for carers or contact the Carers Line on 13 27 17.
Visit My Journey, BCNA’s online tool for information tailored to your diagnosis. My Journey has a Symptom Tracking tool that you can use to help you record your pain, what works for you and what doesn’t.
Join our Online Network if you think that talking to others online and sharing experiences will help.
Contact BCNA’s Helpline on 1800 500 258 between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm AEST Monday to Friday, for information about the services and support that may be available for you and your family.
Find resources created with and for those who identify as LGBTIQ+ and have been diagnosed with breast cancer, at all stages of treatment
Resources for Indigenous women diagnosed with breast cancer, including stories from other First Nations women about treatments and support
Tips to ensure people in same-sex relationships have access to the right health professionals and support following a diagnosis
Let’s be Upfront about the extra challenges and different needs of LGBTIQ+ people when diagnosed with breast cancer.
Let’s be upfront about LGBTIQ+ communities that are affected by breast cancer.
Understand the main medical terms and acronyms you may find when you are living with a breast cancer diagnosis or going through treatment
Let’s be Upfront about navigating a breast cancer diagnosis as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
*This article does not provide medical advice and is intended for informational purposes only.
Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you're seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.