Caring for a Loved One With Liver Cancer

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A caregiver is someone who helps with the day-to-day care of a person with a health condition (like cancer) and is usually a partner, family member, or close friend. Caregivers are often the gatekeepers, serving as the liaison between a person and their healthcare team.

While the caregiver role is a special, often treasured position, it can also be overwhelming and exhausting, both physically and mentally. The good news, though, is that with self-care, communication, flexibility, and support, a caregiver can feel empowered and self-assured to embrace and make the best of this compassionate journey with their loved one.

Older couple relaxing on bed
Tom Merton / Getty Images

Take Care of Yourself

Whether you are a parent, partner, friend, or relative caring for a person with liver cancer, it's important to consider your own physical and emotional needs. This means engaging in everyday, healthy habits that will nourish your body and rejuvenate your soul.


One important aspect of caring for yourself is taking breaks. This means taking time away from your loved one to attend to yourself, whether that's to go for a morning walk, to see your own healthcare provider for your own health needs, or to simply grab a coffee or a movie with a friend.

To find a substitute caregiver, try reaching out to family members, friends, a neighbor, church volunteers, your cancer support team, or even hired help. You may be surprised just how many people want to help you but are unsure how.


Exercise has so many health benefits including reducing stress and improving well-being. With that, be sure you find time to incorporate a daily exercise routine into your caregiving schedule.

Eat Nutritiously

Caring for someone who has liver cancer often means more than handling the "cancer" part of the care. It also means helping your loved one with an array of everyday tasks like assistance with bathing, feeding, dressing, getting in and out of the car, driving, and performing household chores like cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping.

With this exhaustive list, you might begin to neglect cooking your own meals, opting instead to order fast food or microwave a tv dinner. If possible, though, you should try to prepare or order healthy meals for you and your loved one. Like exercise, eating fresh, nutritious-packed meals will help you feel better.

If you are strapped for time or energy, consider setting up an online meal train where other friends and family members can deliver a homemade meal a few times a week. You may also consider scheduling an appointment with a nutritionist who has experience working with people who have liver cancer.

Help Communicate

A caregiver is a critical part of the cancer care team, often navigating the physical aspects of caring for a loved one with liver cancer (for example, taking them in for blood tests) and the logistical ones as well, including:

  • Calling insurance companies
  • Coordinating hospital stays
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Picking up medications from the pharmacy
  • Calling the cancer care team with updates on how a symptom is evolving

All of these tasks take time and mental stamina, so do not be afraid to ask for help from your cancer care team. For instance, if an insurance issue is bogging you down, ask your social worker if there is another way to approach the insurance company.

Be Flexible

A caregiver of someone with liver cancer wears many hats, and these hats (or roles, so to speak) change as the person with liver cancer moves forward with their diagnosis and treatment plan.

Try to be flexible as you care for your loved one, knowing that things can change from one day to the next.

For example, just when you think you have adopted a treatment regimen to help your loved one manage their post-surgical pain, another problem—like nausea or vomiting—may arise.

While it may seem like you are always putting out fires, try to take each day as it comes, adopt an easygoing mindset, and find joy in the small "wins."

Find Support

Being a caregiver may be lonely at times. To combat isolation, it's a good idea to reach out to others for support.

Besides reaching out to friends, family members, or religious or spiritual advisors, another good resource is the American Cancer Society, which offers a number of support tools for caregivers, including online support communities.

In addition to seeking out support, it's important to be aware of symptoms of depression, like sleep difficulties, a sad mood, and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. Be sure to see your healthcare provider if you develop these symptoms.

Liver Cancer Healthcare Provider Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Doctor Discussion Guide Woman

A Word From Verywell

While navigating the physical and mental highs and lows of your caregiving journey, remember to be kind to yourself. While you are doing the best you can to care for your loved one, know that cancer has a mind of its own. Even with the best treatments and care, problems like infection or cancer progression do happen. During these difficult times, taking a deep breath of fresh air, holding the hand of your loved one, and savoring the present moment can go a long way.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What side effects should I expect from my loved one's liver cancer treatment?

    If your loved one undergoes targeted therapy or immunotherapy, you may have to assist in managing side effects that include itching, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and increased risk of infections.

  • How long can my loved one live with a cancer diagnosis?

    Someone diagnosed with liver cancer can live for years, depending on the stage at diagnosis and how it responds to treatment. The five-year relative survival rate for liver cancer that has not spread beyond the liver is 34%. If liver cancer has spread regionally (nearby lymph nodes or structures) or distantly (further areas such as the lungs or bones), the five-year survival drops to 12% and 3%, respectively.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Cancer Society. Caregiver resource guide.

  2. Family Caregiver Alliance. Taking care of YOU: self-care for family caregivers

  3. American Cancer Society. What is a cancer caregiver?

  4. American Cancer Society. If you’re about to become a cancer caregiver.

  5. American Cancer Society. Chemotherapy for liver cancer.

  6. American Cancer Society. Liver cancer survival rates.

Additional Reading

By Colleen Doherty, MD
 Colleen Doherty, MD, is a board-certified internist living with multiple sclerosis.