Anyone living alone - how do you cope?

Hi everyone,

Im just starting my journey and awaiting my treatment plan. I’m told it will be a mastectomy and chemotherapy though.

I live alone and am very independent, but not sure how to cope with basic things like shopping, dressing, bathing etc?? (Late night thoughts and anxieties!!)

Any tips to help? Advice?

Also if anyone else is out there who can share their experiences, that would be amazing!


Hi Nanny, I’m sorry to read you have BC. I live alone and worried in the same way. I was also told I couldn’t drive for 6 weeks post-op. Friends, neighbours and colleagues all offered to help but I decided running a rota and the imposition on them wouldn’t suit me ( being independent) so I put some feelers out locally and found a young girl, uni student with a car and needing some pocket-money. It worked well.  She ran the hoover round, helped me to wash my hair, brought groceries that type of thing, as and when needed. I ensured her parents were content every step of the way, her being ‘exposed to a cancer situation’.

She didn’t have set days/hours, but I paid her by the hour plus gave her petrol money. 

Friends then came into force for the more ‘extreme’ stuff like immediately before/after op and the emotional support, coming to stay when necessary. 


Tesco home delivery is also fantastic. 

It’s all about forward planning - as you know! 

Good luck. 

Hi nannyof2


You will manage fine, get the shopping in or ordered online just before you’re op. Order easy open packets of stuff and plan your meals for a few days. 


Bathing so far for has been fine. I have used an old fashioned fix to the taps shower head. I wash my bottom half, while standing in the bath then my “good” side. I then get out of the bath, dry off and clean my surgery side with wipes. (sensitive pampers). I then roll up a towel, kneel on it and put my head over the bath to wash my hair with one hand, again using the fixed on shower. I stand the shampoo and conditioner in the bath, both open before I wet my hair then its “doable” with one hand. Hope that helps, also it gets easier every day. Sending you best wishes xx



Hi nannyof2


I’m sorry I forgot to say my breast care nurse told me to download an app called Smiling Mind which I did. It is free and helps managing anxiety and stress. Xx

I lived alone when I went through breast cancer treatment in 2003. I had been living with a flat mate but she couldn’t stand me going on and on about cancer all the time. 

She had been diagnosed with it a few years earlier and had chemo and all I did was worry her so  she went back to New Zealand where she had come from. I must say I couldn’t blame her as I was terrible company for anyone but particularly someone traumatised by hospital visits for breast cancer treatment. I soon went back to work and took time out for radiotherapy and a weekly breast cancer support group which I could walk to from my work place.If I woke up in the night I would chat to what was then the breast cancer care forums. Going back to work kept me sane as I did not talk about it to anyone there. It also meant I had money coming in.

I was able to walk to radiotherapyfrom where I worked so I went around 4 pm each day Mon to Friday for a few weeks. I did not have chemo but some people had milder kinds. I think I would have tried to work as much as I could, but a lot of people didn’t but went to art classes, took up hobbies and looked after themselves. We bonded in the cancer support group so I made friends there. There were a lot off sad moments, some people developed secondary breast cancer. Some died they were all great people. I remember their lives not their deaths. I leant a lot about love, kindness and resilience.

love seagulls

Hello, I have found that meditation has really helped me. It helps to relax the mind and the body. I use the ‘Insight Timer’ App, there are also some specific meditations for people going through cancer.

Good luck


Hello nannyof2,

have only just found your post so hope you are getting alone ok so far? I too live alone having been widowed 18 years ago and having no children. At first I was scared but now I am on day 17 of chemo cycle 1 I am starting to see certain advantages. Like others I get a big shopping delivery including a few ready meals in case I don’t feel like cooking. I also bought a small freezer as only had an ice box before, so now I can keep food for longer. I make batches of soup on the good days and freeze single servings into zip bags for ease of use. One scary thing was giving my first G-csf injection alone when I didn’t know if i’d have a bad reaction so I phoned a friend who popped in to oversee my giving this and who stayed for a bit to check I was OK. After that I gave the other injections alone. I too fear burdening my friends but they are really keen to help. My neighbour goes shopping every day so I sometimes ask if she can get me something. So far I’ve managed to walk to the pharmacy ok as the exercise and fresh air are good for me but my pharmacy will deliver and maybe yours may do so to? It’s always worth asking. This week I booked myself onto a look good feel better workshop about skin care and make up. This will be an opportunity to meet others and is something to look forward to. If I have any worries I call the Macmillan helpline which is absolutely marvellous and available 8am-8pm 7 days a week. They provide both emotional and medical support. I also registered with my local cancer support centre and go there every so many weeks for acupuncture. One big advantage of living alone is that in week 2 of chemo, when we are vulnerable to infection, we can avoid the risk of having other people in the house. I can also do what I like when I like without having to explain myself to anyone! Remember that your friends feel helpless if you never call them or seek their support and they feel really good when they realise there is something they can do to help. I am still there to help and support them too, in fact I ask them to treat me as normally as before and not be afraid to tell me their own troubles. I can still offer them my moral support and we enjoy each others company on the good days by having lunch out or going to a park or the garden centre. I have always been there for my friends in the past and I still am. We are there for each other. I do get taxis to and from the hospital for chemo but friends often accompany me for appts with the oncologist and helpfully record the consultations on their mobile phones so we don’t miss anything. The fact that friends are with me on these occasions means I don’t have to explain what happened afterwards. I also listen to comedy shows as laughter is important. Radio 4 extra is also very relaxing and better than listening to the news! Living alone one can choose all ones favourite programmes without needing to accommodate the needs of others and can be silent whenever one wishes. If the housework remains undone who cares. There is no-one to please but yourself.