If you are single and have cancer

Getting through a cancer experience can be especially challenging when you are single. When you’re on your own, it isn’t easy to have to deal with the practical concerns of living with cancer. You might need to find someone to help look after you as you recover from surgery or if you are really ill after chemotherapy. You may find it hard to get to appointments on your own, be extra worried about money or fall behind on household tasks like shopping and laundry. If you have children, pets or plants, you may need help looking after them. And on top of all that, you may not have the same support that other people have with their emotional concerns.

You may take a lot of pride in being a strong, independent person. But when you are coping with cancer, don’t try to do everything yourself. It’s OK to need some help or to need someone to listen. Getting the help you need means that you can then focus your energy on your treatment and recovery.

Ask for help and support

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People are often happy to help – but they don’t know where to start. Think about what would be most helpful for you. What isn’t getting done on your to-do list? Do you need help with groceries or meals? Does your lawn need to be cut or do you need to be sure that snow gets shovelled as soon as possible? Does your child need to get picked up or dropped off somewhere on a regular basis?

Perhaps you need someone to be your main support person – someone who could go to appointments with you and help organize the tasks that people can help you with.

Your healthcare team can also be a source of support for you and can help you find resources close to home.

Research has shown that people diagnosed with cancer do better when they have connections to other people. You can find support by talking to the people in your life – on the phone or with social media. Take time when you have energy to go out for coffee or a walk. Join a cancer support group. Try group classes in meditation or group activities organized around your interests.

With just a little effort, you may be surprised by the number of people you can count in your support system, and where they come from. And you can choose to ask for as much or as little help as you need while dealing with cancer. Just because you’re single, it doesn’t mean that you’re alone.

Expert review and references

  • Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. Living with Cancer: A Report on the Patient Experience . 2018.
  • Your relationships after cancer treatment. Macmillan Cancer Support. Macmillan Cancer Support. London, UK: Macmillan Cancer Support; 2012.
  • Living Single and Cancer: 4 Lessons From a Survivor . 2016 .

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

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