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Living Alone

Cancer can turn any household upside-down, but facing cancer while living alone can add to the challenges of coping.

If you can’t work, who will pay the bills? How do you get to your appointments if treatment is making you too sick to drive? If you’re too tired from chemotherapy, how will you care for yourself at home?

Asking for help is the key for people living alone

Connecting with people and services in your community helps alleviate a sense of isolation that many people with cancer have – particularly if they are living alone.

Most people will lend a hand if they know it’s needed. Let friends and neighbors know you need them – and tell them how they can help by giving them choices you are comfortable with. For example, you may not want your neighbor to see you when you are too tired to get dressed, but you may be very comfortable having them drive you to your appointment – or run an errand to the store.

Reach out to community organizations

Local non-profits and religious organizations may offer assistance. In particular, the American Cancer Society, United Way and Area Agencies on Aging may be able to connect you with volunteers who can help with transportation, shopping, housekeeping, meals and companionship at difficult times.

Use the web and social media

Social media and instant messaging is a great way to keep connected to family and friends who live too far away to help out on a daily basis.

The American Cancer Society, CancerCare, and the Cancer Support Community all have online resources and communities you can us as an easy and direct way to talk to other people coping with cancer.

There are a number of websites like or that help organize and ask for help. Another option is making use of’s wish list feature as a way to keep friends and family aware of what supplies you need – even if they aren’t sold on Amazon.

Bring a tape recorder and make notes

Appointments during cancer treatment can be intense and overwhelming. Questions you planned to ask can be forgotten based on the new questions that come up based on your latest lab results of scan. Make notes before your appointment of anything you want to discuss so you won’t forget.

You can always record your discussions with your doctor, so you can review them when you’re home. You can also ask for a copy of the clinical notes from your visits be sent to you, so that you can review them later.

Get Support

It can be very helpful to talk to someone who is not a close friend or family member. A person who can listen with understanding to the fear, anger or sadness you may be feeling during your cancer treatment. Consider talking to a therapist, counselor, member of the clergy or spiritual care provider.

University of Michigan Resources to help you when you're on your own

Community / national resources to help you on your own

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