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Q. My mom was diagnosed with cancer in December 2018. They did surgery and removed the cancer, but it unfortunately returned through brain tumors. She has had chemo, whole brain radiation, targeted radiation to try and combat the tumors. The effects of the tumors have gotten worse. Is there any help out there for her to assist with the daily tasks that she needs? Due to COVID-19, I am working from home so I am able to come by and help her out daily and work from her house. Any assistance that you could provide or direction would be very useful.


It can be difficult to be the primary caregiver for a loved one with advanced cancer and there are many steps you can take to ensure that she has adequate support.

The first thing to consider is the state in which you live and your mother’s health insurance policy. Benefits, resources and coverage can vary state to state, so it’s important to take that into consideration before you being your search for a caregiver. Secondly, do you know if your mother qualifies for palliative and/or hospice care? To explain a bit further, hospice care is a service intended to provide support for those who are nearing the end of their life. In many states, patients are usually referred to hospice care when treatment is no longer an option. Palliative care strives to improve quality of life for those with advanced illness. They may be able to help manage pain and side effects in a different way than her oncologist. In most cases, hospice care is available to those who have stopped treatment due to the severity of their diagnosis. Some of these services are covered by insurance, but it does depend. Read more in our fact sheet “Palliative Care: What You Need to Know”.

Unfortunately, many patients that are in need of caregivers usually have to pay for this service out of pocket. Many of these services that help with household chores and daily tasks (feeding, dressing, bathing, etc.) are usually private pay, meaning that you would need to hire someone to come into the home to help. CancerCare has a small financial assistance program that can help towards home care needs. If you are interested in applying on behalf of your mother, please call our Hopeline (800-813-4673) to speak with an oncology social worker. We also understand the stress that comes along with the role of a primary caregiver. If you are interested in receiving additional emotional support, you can speak to an oncology social worker to find out if our short-term counseling is the right fit for you.

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