At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we recognize caregivers as an important part of the cancer care team. As the family member or friend of someone with cancer, you may find yourself taking on new responsibilities while coping with your own emotions.
You may have to learn about your loved one’s diagnosis or treatment options or help make decisions about their care. This could involve learning new skills, giving your loved one medication, or going with them to appointments. It may also include providing physical care, such as helping them manage symptoms like pain or nausea.
It’s normal to sometimes feel overwhelmed by the stress of caregiving — especially if you’re also working a full-time job and looking after children or other family members. But you’re not alone: MSK has various resources to support you as you take on this role while also caring for yourself.
Educational Resources for Caregivers
Books about Caregiving
Here’s a list of books about caregiving that you might find helpful:
100 Questions and Answers about Caring for Family or Friends with Cancer
Authors: Susannah L. Rose and Richard T. Hara
Always on Call: When Illness Turns Families into Caregivers
Editor: Carol Levine
Cancer Caregiving A-to-Z: An At-Home Guide for Patients and Families
Author: American Cancer Society
Editor: Allison J. Applebaum
Caregiving: A Step-By-Step Resource for Caring for the Person with Cancer at Home
Authors: Peter S. Houts and Julia A. Bucher
Caregiver’s Guide for Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant
Author: National Bone Marrow Transplant
The Human Side of Cancer: Living with Hope, Coping with Uncertainty
Authors: Jimmie C. Holland and Sheldon Lewis
Love, Honor & Value: A Family Caregiver Speaks Out about the Choices & Challenges of Caregiving
Author: Suzanne Geffen Mintz
Things I Wish I’d Known: Cancer Caregivers Speak Out
Author: Deborah J. Cornwall
Share the Care: How to Organize a Group to Care for Someone Who Is Seriously Ill
Authors: Cappy Capossela and Sheila Warnock
Information about caregiving written by MSK staff:
9 Tips for Caregivers: How to Help a Loved One with Cancer
Caring for a loved one with cancer is a meaningful yet challenging role. We asked experienced caregivers to share some of the advice that helped them through the process.
Caring for Caregivers
Clinical psychologist Allison Applebaum talks about therapy options for people caring for cancer patients.
Four Ways You Can Help Support Caregivers
When someone is diagnosed with cancer, the disease can throw the entire family into turmoil. The person who becomes the primary caregiver can benefit from the support of others just as much as the patient.
Helping Caregivers Care for Themselves
Clinical social workers Annamma Abraham Kaba and Linda Mathew offer tips for caregivers coping with the pressures of attending to a loved one with cancer.
Helpful information about caregiving from MSK:
New to Caregiving? Hear Advice from MSK Caregivers
New to caregiving? Hear advice from MSK caregivers.
Support for the Caregiver: Practical Advice and Tips for Coping
Watch our expert panel, including experienced caregivers, share resources and tips to help caregivers and their families.
Touch Therapy for Caregivers
Massage and touch can be important components of the healing process both during and after cancer treatment. A massage therapist from MSK’s Integrative Medicine Service gives a demonstration of different techniques that caregivers can use on their loved ones.
Help for the Caregiver
Providing end-of-life care for a family member or friend with cancer can be an equally rewarding and challenging job. Carol Krueger, an MSK social worker, offers advice for people who are caring for a family member or friend with cancer and explains how supportive services, such as counseling, spiritual guidance, or bereavement therapy, can help caregivers cope with the demands of this role.
Survivors and Family Caregiver Panel
Melissa Stewart, a clinical social worker at MSK, moderates a panel of survivors and family caregivers.
Patient and Caregiver Support Program
Integrative Medicine Service
Integrative Medicine at Home
Integrative Medicine at Home is a monthly online membership program of healthy lifestyle classes for MSK families. The program offers members live, online group classes each week, serving all ages and abilities. For more information, call 646-888-0800.
Rising Voices Choir
Integrative Medicine Services also offers Rising Voices Choir, which invites all patients, survivors, and caregivers looking for a supportive outlet to join in making music together. For more information, call 646-888-0800.
Tobacco Treatment Program
Adult Recreation at the Charles Hallac Patient Recreation Center
Our team of recreation specialists provides psychosocial support through a multi-arts and cultural program that promotes relaxation, self-expression, and socialization. We offer group and one-to-one virtual activities including art, music, movement, crafts, games, and performances. For more information, call 212-639-5978.
Language Assistance Program
Our Language Assistance Program (LAP) offers professional medical interpreting and translation services to Limited English Proficient (LEP) patients and to patients with vision, hearing, and speech impairment in order to enhance their experience at MSK. LAP helps patients and their family members communicate with everyone throughout the continuum of care. For more information, call 212-639-5981.
MSK Support Services for Caregivers
Caregivers Clinic in the Counseling Center
Our Caregivers Clinic provides support specifically for people who are having difficulty coping with the demands of being a caregiver. The purpose of this clinic is to help you maximize your ability to provide care to your loved one while attending to your own self-care, needs, and other important responsibilities. For more information, call 646-888-0200.
Social workers can help you manage different issues across the cancer care continuum. They provide individual counseling and host support groups. Our social workers can also help refer you to community agencies and programs. For more information, call 212-639-7020 or email [email protected].
Talking with Children about Cancer
Our Talking with Children about Cancer Program provides information and support around how to talk to children about their parent’s cancer diagnosis through individual consultations as well as adult and child support groups. For more information, call 212-639-7029.
Resources for Life after Cancer Treatment (RLAC) Program
The RLAC Program offers seminars, workshops, and support groups to address topics related to cancer survivorship including insurance, employment, emotional concerns, and caregiver issues. For more information, call 646-888-4740.
The Bereavement Program offers free telephone consultations, support groups, educational lectures, and referrals to community resources. Our social workers have expertise in dealing with the psychological, social, spiritual, and practical concerns for individuals, families, and friends who are grieving. Sessions are professionally led, confidential, and free. For more information, call 646-888-4889.
Virtual Programs offers a variety of online resources for the caregivers of people undergoing treatment at MSK. Our live, interactive sessions are confidential, free, and led by expert clinical staff. For more information, visit www.mskcc.org/vp.
Caregiver Support Group
Our virtual caregiver support group offers the opportunity to discuss the stresses, challenges, and rewards of providing care for someone with cancer. You can register directly on the Caregiver Support Group page or by emailing [email protected].
Connections: Online Community
Connections is an online community for MSK patients, caregivers, survivors, and friends to exchange support, information, and inspiration.
Patient and Caregiver Education
- A Guide for Caregivers
- Managing Insomnia for Caregivers
- Managing Anxiety for Caregivers
- Managing Depression for Caregivers
- Delirium: A Guide for Caregivers
- How to Be a Health Care Agent
- Information for Family and Friends for the Day of Surgery
- Managing COVID-19 at Home: Information for Caregivers
- Dealing with the Loss of a Loved One
External Resources for Caregivers
These resources provide an overview of basic information that may be useful to you, such as quick tips and advice from experienced caregivers.
- American Cancer Society: What You Need to Know as a Cancer Caregiver
- National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship: Caring for the Caregiver
- National Cancer Institute: When Someone You Love Is Being Treated for Cancer: Support for Caregivers
We know it can be difficult navigating the challenges presented by COVID-19, especially while caring for someone with cancer. Visit www.mskcc.org/coronavirus for information and answers to frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19.
To keep patients and staff safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, we may change our visitor policy more often than usual. Visit www.mskcc.org/visit for the most up-to-date information.