Getting emotional support for families

If you are supporting or caring for someone with pancreatic cancer, you can get psychological (emotional) support to help you cope with the emotional impact.

What's in the 'Information for family members' section?


If you are caring for someone with pancreatic cancer, you might feel like you want or need to cope by yourself. But asking for or accepting help is not a sign of weakness, or that you can’t cope.

Different ways of finding emotional support

The medical team looking after your family member can also help you. This might be the specialist nurse, GP or community nurse. They can answer your questions as well as providing emotional support and medical care.

If you are at home, you may have carers or health care assistants coming in to support the care needs of your family member. Many people find home care workers provide lots of emotional support to everyone in the family home as you have regular contact with them.

Contact our nurses

Our specialist nurses can offer practical advice, emotional support and answer any questions you may have. You can take as much time as you need to talk through your worries.

We're here for you

You can contact our specialist nurses on our free Support Line on 0808 801 0707 or email them.

Find out more about how we can support you
Pancreatic Cancer Nurse Jeni Jones

Counselling or talking therapy

Counselling or ‘talking therapy’ involves talking to a trained professional about your thoughts and feelings. It may help you work through how you feel, and find ways of coming to terms with things.

You may be able to access therapy through your GP, local hospital, hospice or cancer support centre. And Mind have information about how to find a counsellor or therapist. You can also refer yourself to psychological therapies through the NHS website.

Organisations supporting carers

There are organisations across the UK that provide information, help and emotional support to people caring for someone with cancer. These include Carers UK, Carers Trust, Macmillan Cancer Support and Maggie’s. If you live in Wales, you can get support from Tenovus Cancer Care. If you live in Northern Ireland, Cancer Focus NI and Action Cancer provide support.

“I've often felt very alone since my husband has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I feel guilty to be struggling emotionally, but I found talking to other carers really helpful and comforting.”

Nicola

Getting practical support

Supporting someone with pancreatic cancer may mean that life is busy and often overwhelming.

Practical support can help you cope emotionally. It can reduce the stress from managing everything, give you a chance to take a break, and help you feel less alone.

Write down all the things that need to be done to support your family member. See what tasks or activities you can ask for help with. Family and friends will often be happy to help out, as it’s a practical way of supporting you and your loved one. This is also a good way of finding some time for yourself.

There are lots of ways you may be able to get local support. If you speak to the GP, they should be able to connect you with them. We have more information about accessing care and support for your family member.

  • The local community nursing service can provide nursing care to your family member, and support for you.
  • Hospices provide free palliative care for people with an illness that can’t be cured. This includes managing symptoms. Hospice care isn’t just for someone at the end of their life.
  • Ask the GP or nursing team who to contact if you need help in the evenings, at night or over the weekend.
  • Respite care may help when you need a short break from caring for your family member.
  • Your local council’s social services department may also provide support and equipment to help you care for someone at home. You can request an assessment from an occupational therapist to work out what care your family member needs.
  • Find out what support is available locally. The Macmillan information and support centre or Maggie’s centre might be a good place to start.
  • If you live in Wales, you can get support from Tenovus Cancer Care. If you live in Northern Ireland, Cancer Focus NI and Action Cancer provide support.

Here are some examples of practical support that other families have found helpful.

  • Get help with childcare, for example doing the school run or during medical appointments.
  • Allow friends to take the person with cancer to medical appointments.
  • Family members may be able to help care for the person with cancer so you can take a break.
  • Ask for help with cooking, cleaning or shopping.

“I could not have managed without close family coming in to take over running my house while I focused on my husband.”

  • If you work, speak to your employer about your options. For example, you may be able to change or reduce your working hours.

Find out more about getting the right practical and financial support. It can make a huge difference and help reduce stress.

Macmillan Cancer Support provides financial, practical and medical support to people with cancer and their families. The hospital might also have a benefits advice service – ask the medical team about this.

Maggie’s offers free practical and social support to anyone affected by cancer in their centres or online.

“We made time as a family to keep making new memories, even if they are simple memories of watching telly together or sitting in the garden.”

Order more free information for families

We have a lot of information to help you care for your family member in our booklet: Caring for someone with pancreatic cancer: Information for families and carers.

Order a free copy
An image of the front cover of Pancreatic Cancer UK's booklet, Caring for someone with pancreatic cancer: information for families and carers

Updated August 2022

Review date August 2024