New Cancer Council SA data released during National Carers Week shows that 1 in 2 people caring for a loved one with cancer are experiencing depression, anxiety or stress.
The study surveyed South Australians who have cared for someone impacted by cancer in the last five years about their experience with cancer care services.
Of the carers who participated in the survey 55 per cent reported experiencing emotional distress, with 33 per cent reporting anxiety symptoms and 19 per cent reporting symptoms of depression. Overall, 14 per cent said they were experiencing severe psychological distress.
Andrew Potter knows firsthand the impact of caring for a loved one going through cancer. He supported his dad through an eight-year journey with prostate cancer, caring for him in the final months of his life until he passed away in 2019.
“He started to go downhill really, really quickly in those last few months. So I would help where needed and spend the night with him in that final week. The night he passed away I was with him holding his hand and I look back at that as a blessing almost, because there’s a lot of people who don’t get that opportunity,” Andrew said.
“For me, the hardest part was managing caring for him with all the other things going on in my life – my children, my wife, work and other commitments. I found all of that just as stressful.”
“It’s quite hard talking to your loved ones about it because they just can’t relate. I didn’t know what to expect and there was no one available to talk to who had been through something similar.”
Cancer Council SA Information and Support Manager, Amanda Robertson says that over the past year, Cancer Council SA’s experienced nurses have received almost 1,400 calls from family and friends of someone with cancer, with over one third seeking emotional support.
“A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming and it’s common for carers to experience a range of feelings about their role and responsibilities. Often these feelings are similar to those experienced by the person with cancer. Research shows that some carers can report even higher levels of distress,” she said.
“Cancer Council 13 11 20 is staffed by experienced, local cancer nurses who can provide information and support to anyone impacted by a cancer diagnosis, including family and friends.”
“Through our Cancer Connect Program, we can also connect callers with others who have been through a similar experience caring for someone with cancer. Talking to someone else who has cared for someone with cancer can help reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety.”
“We know that carers can often be so focused on taking care of their loved one, that they can start to ignore their own needs, and this can affect their health and wellbeing, relationships, work and finances.”
“This National Carers Week, we want to remind South Australian carers, and family and friends of someone with cancer, that we are only a phone call away.”
Cancer Council 13 11 20 is a free information and support service for all South Australians impacted by a cancer diagnosis, including family and friends. Our Adelaide-based Cancer Council SA Nurses are available on 13 11 20 from Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.