Caring for Someone With Bladder Cancer

father and son eating a meal

A cancer diagnosis tends to have a rippling effect, mostly impacting those closest to the person diagnosed, like a partner or spouse, but ultimately reaching close friends, siblings, and other relatives. Whether living with, caring for, or simply serving as a listening ear to a person with cancer, it can be exhausting, both physically and mentally.

But with a positive mindset and the right tools and support system, you can serve this unique role well.

Here are some essential steps to guide you through loving and caring for someone with bladder cancer. 

Do Your Research

Read up on how doctors diagnose and treat bladder cancer, including what a surgery entails and when doctors recommend removing the bladder tumor versus the entire bladder. Understanding the recovery process from chemotherapy and surgery will also allow you to be better prepared when your loved one or person you are caring for comes home.

And, when you're actually reading about bladder cancer, jot down your thoughts or questions in a notebook, review them with your loved one, and bring that notebook to the next doctor's visit. Although your loved one may not want to spend their time at home discussing the nuances of bladder cancer, the fact that you took the time to learn about it is a sign of your love and respect for what they are going through.

Be Prepared to Multitask

As a caregiver of someone with bladder cancer, you will wear many hats, and these hats change as a person moves forward with treatment.

Some roles may seem more tedious, although they are just as worthy:

  • Driving to appointments and chemotherapy sessions
  • Picking up prescriptions from the pharmacy
  • Managing a budget to determine how your loved one's cancer care will be financed
  • Calling the health insurance company to inquire about coverage and deductibles
  • Taking over household tasks, like cleaning, grocery shopping, preparing meals, doing laundry

Other roles are more direct and proactive:

  • Playing an active role in making decisions regarding your loved one's care and treatment plans
  • Relaying messages or calling the cancer care team with questions or concerns
  • Helping your loved one recover from chemotherapy and surgery (and sometimes radiation)
  • Serving as a support liaison, like communicating with and updating family members
  • Providing emotional support to your loved one—a shoulder to lean on or simply your presence will likely bring great comfort

Whatever hat you are wearing during this journey, know that it is valuable.

Take Care of Yourself

When caring for someone with bladder cancer, it's easy to become consumed with the management of their disease. You may find that any extra moments in your day are filled with reading the condition, scheduling and attending appointments, or tending to your loved one's recovery from chemotherapy or surgery.

Set Time for You

But, in the end, it's vital that you take the time to tend to your own needs—not only the basic ones like sleeping, eating healthy, and exercising, but "feel good" ones too. Set aside time every day to let your mind relax, whether that means being distracted by a good book, movie, board game, or a dinner out with a friend or family member.

If you have a hard time easing your worries, you may consider relaxation techniques, like deep breathing exercises or mindfulness meditation. Spiritual or religious support may also be beneficial at this time.

Establish a Backup System

It's also wise to have a backup caretaker for when you need a break. Consider asking another family member to drive to a chemotherapy session one day a week or ask a friend to help you run errands.

In the end, many people are available to help you but are often not sure what you need or do not want to overstep. Be specific, make a list, and do not feel guilty about asking for assistance.

You need to be realistic, and by asking for help and support, you are going to be more productive and present for your loved one.

Prioritize Your Mental Health

It is important to understand that depression and anxiety are common in caregivers. If you find yourself being all-consumed by your loved one's cancer diagnosis and treatment and/or are experiencing symptoms of depression or debilitating anxiety, please seek help from your primary care physician or from a mental health professional.

Find Support

It's also a good idea to consider a cancer support network. Talk with your loved one's cancer health team, like their nurse or social worker, for resources. You can also visit the American Cancer Society to locate support programs near your home.


American Cancer Society. Caregivers and Family.

McNeil, B. (2011). First Steps—I've Been Diagnosed with Bladder Cancer. In Gonzalgo ML (Ed), Patient's Guide to Bladder Cancer (1-8). Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.