Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Physical Health of Cancer Survivors’ Family, Friends, and Caregivers

Photo of two women jogging

Informal, or unpaid, caregivers support cancer survivors in many ways. Some caregivers may develop physical problems, which can result from stress and changes in the ways they are caring for themselves.

Stress can cause aches and pains, sleep problems, and appetite changes. About half of caregivers don’t get enough restful, continuous sleep, making them feel tired. Caregivers may not have the time and energy to prepare healthy meals and exercise, and may skip their own doctor’s appointments.

Ways to Stay Healthy

You can lower your risk of developing physical problems by making healthy choices, such as—

  • Avoiding tobacco.
  • Limiting alcohol use.
  • Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
  • Keeping a healthy weight.
  • Being physically active.
  • Finding support and staying socially connected.
  • Getting plenty of sleep.

Since cancer survivors are at higher risk for complications from the flu, you can take steps to keep yourself and your loved one healthy and free from the flu and other infections.

  • Get a flu shot. CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
  • Help stop the spread of germs by covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, washing your hands or using hand sanitizer often, avoiding close contact with sick people, and limiting contact with others as much as possible if you get sick.

More Information

If you are caring for a cancer survivor who has the flu, please read The Flu: Caring for Someone Sick at Home [PDF-1.6MB] for detailed information about how to care for the sick person while avoiding getting sick yourself.

If you have a child with cancer, read Flu: A Guide for Parents of Children or Adolescents with Chronic Health Conditions [PDF-164KB].