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Childcare support and breast cancer

Find out about the charities, organisations and people who can help support you to manage childcare during and after breast cancer treatment.

1. Childcare when you have breast cancer

You may find it difficult to manage childcare during or after treatment. This could be because your treatment means you have extra hospital appointments or tests. You might also find that the side effects of treatment make it more difficult to manage childcare.

This can be upsetting and some people may feel guilty. It can be difficult to ask for help and support. But there are a number of people and organisations that can help support you.

2. Family and friends

Let family, friends and neighbours know if you’re struggling as they can be a good source of support. They may be able to help take care of your children when you have hospital appointments, or help with day-to-day activities such as food shopping or housework.

Having this additional support can give you more time to relax with your children. If you don’t have family and friends living close by who can help with childcare, speak to a social worker at the hospital or contact the Family and Childcare Trust.

3. Your children’s school

If you’re concerned, talk to the teachers or after-school care providers at your child’s school. They may be prepared to be flexible, provide additional support for your child and help at short notice.

Parents at the same nursery or school as your children, may also be willing to help.

Find out more about talking to your children’s school.

4. Your workplace

You could speak to your employer, either your manager or Human Resources (HR) department, about flexible working.

This could give you more flexibility with childcare and your breast cancer treatment.

5. Social services

Social services can provide support for you and your family. For example they can organise help with shopping, housework and applying for benefits.

You can ask your GP or treatment team to refer you, or contact them directly through your local council.

6. Financial support

You may be able to get help towards childcare costs through certain benefits. Some of the benefits you may be able to claim:

  • Help with the cost of government-approved childcare (Working Tax Credit)
  • Housing Benefit
  • Universal Credit
  • Free school meals
  • Grants for school clothing

The benefits you'll be able to claim depend on your income and other factors. Visit Macmillan Cancer Support for more information. You can also visit the Childcare Choices website for more information on childcare and financial support.

7. Charities and organisations

Carer’s Trust

Carer’s Trust is a charity that can provide support to families when a parent or carer has cancer by looking after children. They have centres across the UK.

Fruitfly Collective

The Fruitfly Collective supports children whose parents have cancer. They have resources and special kits to help with difficult conversations and to help children understand what cancer is.

Home-Start

Home-Start is a charity that helps families with young children cope with challenges such as long-term illness in the family. They offer free support and practical help such as looking after children or giving you someone to talk to.

Macmillan Cancer Support

Macmillan Cancer Support offers free financial guidance and support to people with breast cancer. They also produce a booklet Help with the cost of cancer which includes information on the benefits available for carers, help with housing costs, children’s needs and transport. For more information, call 0808 808 00 00.

The Osborne Trust

The Osborne Trust offers free emotional and practical support for children of a parent with a cancer diagnosis and undergoing cancer treatment.

8. Further support

Talk to your treatment team as there may be other organisations they can refer you to.

Thinking about breast cancer and childcare may make you feel overwhelmed and anxious. You may find our information on managing stress and anxiety helpful.

You can also speak to our nurses below, or share your concerns and experience through our online discussion forum.

Our Someone Like Me service, below, can put you in touch with someone who has experience of the issues you’re facing.

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Quality assurance

Last reviewed in November 2021. The next planned review begins in November 2024.

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