I live alone - will I manage?

me again

will get my biopsy results on tuesday but have been told its almost certainly cancer. so, i’m worried about the treatment. is it possible to manage living alone? i have good friends who will come to the hospital and help out but basically i want to know whether i’ll be able to stay living in my flat on my own, give that i’ll probably have surgery, rads, maybe chemo.

i know i’m getting ahead of myself here, and that it will probably depend largely on what type of treatment/surgery etc, but what else am i supposed to think of? it helps me if i can plan things a bit.

anyone else done this while living alone?

I live alone … have had MX and full node clearance and chemo (no rads) and managed just fine. In fact I drove myself to hospital for chemo etc no probs … I ordered the shopping to be delivered cos couldnt drive after surgery and didn’t want to be lifting stuff anyway … Dad came and mowed the lawn for me … Mum vac’d … just for first couple of weeks after surgery … then I was doing stuff myself. Its easier than you think. Any questions just message me x

Hi you again!

I live alone, and am over 300 miles from family. I was diagnosed 10 months after I moved to where I live now (300 miles from where I used to be, not where my folks are), so was still establishing friendship networks.

Yes, it is possible to get throuigh the whole shebang (spelling?) living alone BUT it is good if you can find one or two people in whom you feel able to confide and allow a bit closer, as IF you have surgery you MAY need practical help for a while. For example, after my mastectomy and reconstruction (done together) I had limits on what I could do with my arms, so someone came and hoovered for me, someone else changed my bed for me. I used online supermarket shopping (still do mostly) and continue to have to be careful with my arm (recently sprained the wrist of the good one overcompensating!). You may be glad of lifts if long distances are involved and I was VERY glad of my personal ‘scribe’ to take notes.

I learned that to keep my independence I had to accept appropriate dependence, if that makes sense. IF you have to walk this path, it is for YOU to decide the boundaries and barriers for other people. But, yes, it is possible to live alone, have chemo, surgery and rads and not go under! Just be sure your hospital know this if any care plan is being set up - I got a couple of extra nights in hospital for which I was grateful at the time of surgery.

Taking control is good - but do try to stay focussed on psotives not worst case scenarios.

gentle hug.

thanks RevCat, you’re a star, that’s very reassuring. i’m in london so public transport good and i have friends living near, just can’t bear the thought of having to move in with someone else and not have my home comforts and my own bed.

my mother died of BC and i remember she needed a lot of help at home. but that was 20 years ago and treatments were not what they are (and she didn’t go to the doc when she first found the lump because she was too afraid.)

i’ll try to stop obsessing for a while


thanks angielav, just seen your comment. hurrah for online shopping. am so glad to hear of others who live alone and manage.


Hi Judes, as the other ladies have said, it can be done. I live by myself and have managed ok, have not had to stay with anyone else yet. Stayed overnight in hospital when I had WLE and SNB and then got a lift home from one of 2 eccentric aunts who have now appointed themselves as my official chauffeurs, which they think is great and they feel like they’ve come out of retirement and started work again!!

Just took it easy and slept whenever I needed to, day or night! Made sure my cupboards and freezer were stocked up before I went in for op so I didn’t have to rely on family and friends too much as I am very independent! However, that said, I have had to let my friends and family help out sometimes and recognise I am not “wonder woman” and there is no shame in accepting a little help sometimes! Take it easy on yourself and good luck, Simone xxx

Now I think back, I am amazed at how much I did on my own. I had loads of friends and visitors but not many “doers”- if you know what I mean. So I just got on with it. I did stipulate no visitors or help during chemo week - I just wanted to be alone in my grotty state!

Hi Judes

I’m another loner. I had an mx with immediate recon, chemo and rads.
I did stay with my sister for a couple of weeks after surgery, but that was mainly cos I had my surgery the other side of the country (long story) to where I live.

Could have managed by myself though, and chemo, etc was fine by myself. I didn’t do much on-line shopping - just for bulky/heavy stuff - but I did make a whole batch of home-made convenience meals, cottage pies, fish pies, stew, pasta bakes, etc.

I had good neighbours and friends who moved bins, mowed lawns, lifted heavy stuff for a few weeks too. Good idea to get a support network up in place.

Good luck - hopefully you won’t have to have the ‘full monty’ of treatment and so you’ll be able to cope just fine.

It is more difficult when you live alone as I do.
Friends were wonderful at each operation(3x) and associated practical difficulties and I felt very cossetted. It wasn’t easy to accept the help but you really do have to get over that one, I’m afraid!
(I got a cleaner then and she was wonderful!)

Not having someone to talk to was the biggest issue for me as my recovery was not straightforward…
I relied on my brilliant BCN for support maybe a bit too much and of course this forum and the helpline here. It became my lifeline.
The forum is a truly wonderful support and of course as time goes on you can support others too.

The time I felt most alone was when active treatment ended and friends and family thought I was ‘cured’!!!
That became a very lonely, desperate time for me.
I got very down indeed as you’re not cured at all. You still very fragile and frightened. That’s when you need someone special to invite around to just be.
I did an awful lot of taking people out to try and repay them and it was good fun but when alone I was on here almost all the time with my cancer buddies! They saved my bacon many a time!!!
I thank all the women here from the bottom of my heart.

You will manage with a lot of planning beforehand regarding shopping, lifts, cleaning, bedside phone (I had to organise that after my third op!), finances and it is terribly wearing when you’re trying to cope with your diagnosis.

Good luck and if you reqiure any more specific advice just ask.

Welsh girl x

Good point re: visitors - living alone means no-one to send them away if you are too tired to tell them to clear off. I appointed a couple of ‘rottweilers’ - guardians who managed my visitors for me. All my visitors were told strict times and days! I’m such a control freak!!

I was lucky enough to be able to work all through chemo, then had some time off after surgery (about 8 weeks) and worked through my rads. There is no ‘right’ way of doing this - except the one we determine for ourslves.

My big thing was that no-one was allowed to do my laundry for me - parishioners seeing the vicars knickers… no way! One lot got sent out to a laundry service, two weeks after surgery, but after that I managed to do my own (except the sheets which someone did for me for a few weeks). I did buy in extra cheap undies pre-surgery as a precaution :slight_smile:

Hi Judes - have sent you a pm

thanks every one, that’s very very helpful. am feeling better now.

i know my friends will tell me that i can’t live alone but now i can tell them that it’s not at all unusual. i’d hate to be in someone else’s bathroom in the middle of the night.


extra undies and frozen foods, great suggestions!

Judes - Hi :slight_smile: I don’t live alone but I’m very independent and have always been the domestic goddess of the household.
I’ve managed to do nearly all of everything all through treatment, just had to learn to do a bit at a time adn spread it out through the day, do a bit when I get up and have some energy, do a bit after I’ve had a sleep in the afternoon etc. You get a rhythm.
The only times I’ve really needed help were lifting on occasion, mainly buckets of coal from our cellar! Sometimes bringing the washing up from the cellar too.
It’s nice though to have someone available if you can’t do something.
Before chemo I’d often stock up on what I needed

I have to say though if I’d have had to work on top of domestics i’d have found it a lot more difficult to keep o n top of the household stuff!

Good point about not wanting to be in someone else’s bathroom. Most of us seem to have experienced constipation or the opposite at one time or another. I’m sure you’ll manage, just may need to adjust a few things and take short cuts.
I’m so lucky I’ve got a semi private health insurance that sort of tops up NHS. They are reimbursing me for a cleaner and ironing as well as extra travel costs going to and from appointments.
It’s worth checking if you’ve got any insurance cover you may have forgotten about.

Hi Jude
I don’t live alone but can I offer advice - all the people wh say “you know where I am if you need me”. Get their mobiles & yes don’t be too proud to ask, my hubby works permanent nights & to be quite honest I lkie that, I was on my own for about 10 years and still m independent he doesn’t “do cooking” but everything else he will do. It’s quite a good idea to txt everyone brief update on regular basis so they know what point you are at.

Keep emergency tel nos in mobile & next to phone and try not to panic - read up on getting sleep thats when the imagination runs wild if you can’t sleep

I know Angie is mega independent & posts a lot on BCC as do rev cat, slendablenda & El katrano

Don’t forget there is a phone line to BCC if anxious.

Probably one of the best bits of advice is “advertise” on here for someone who lives locally so you can try and buddy with someone at a similar stage to you. I have met Sadie who lives only about 2 miles away, we have had lunch and shared experiences - a buddy understands sadly people who haven’t experienced it try to but unsuccessfully - Sadie and myself are both sec & triple negs & on same chemo til lady Monday anyway Sadie is my inspiration - it is one step forward and one bac; take help when offered

Good luck
Big hug

Hi Jude, I live alone, am 51 years old with 2 children thatboth live away from home. I was dx in jan this year, had a wle with snb, my cancer was grade 3 so had to have 6 lots of fec chemo followed by 15 rads. I went back to work 2 weeks ago after getting through the treatment. It was hard being on my own for most of the treatment, I did have support from my 2 brothers, who where amazing, & my next door neighbours where great to, checking on me. I found that the nights were the worst, just when you need someone to talk to.On a practical note, after the first chemo when my brother picked me up from the hospital, I drove myself for the rest, I did have a bit of help with the rads as the hospital was over 35miles away.My son stayed withme the first night I was home after the op, but after that I was on my own.I made lots of meals before the op & froze them, but the house work did get left a lot of the time, only me to see it so no problem there.Im quite an independent person & didnt ask for help much, but if people offer you help, take it, rest when you can & I found getting out every day if poss, if only to walk the dog helped. I wish you all the best, you will get through this Lesley xx

I have always been a very strong, independent person and lived on my own for many years coping with some significant health problems and 3 lots of surgery on my own.
I am now married but breast cancer treatment was a whole different thing. I have to say that I would not have managed on my own. I was very ill during all my chemo and could barely struggle to the bathroom. Some days I couldn’t even manage to go down to heat up some soup or make a cup of tea. My husband was working and I was lucky because my lovely neighbours took turns to come in, make sure I had some lunch and a drink etc.

We’re not well off but we decided to get a cleaner in once a week (never had a cleaner in my life before). I also relied on my husband to take time off work frequently, in fact he used all his annual leave entitlement to look after me and take me to appointments and my lovely neighbours also helped to ferry me back and forth to hospital.

I don’t for a minute want to suggest that your experience will be anything like as bad as mine. I had all sorts of complications with surgery and chemo and my Onc said that was highly unusual. However, you’ve had a lot of very positive stories which I can’t relate to.
I would suggest it is worth having a plan B so that if you find you can’t cope you’ve got someone who would either be willing to stay with you some of the time or who you could go and stay with. I was amazed at how much my neighbours rallied round. Don’t be afraid to ask for help either, you’ll find quite a lot of people want to know what to do for you. Elinda x

thanks elinda, i’m sure that’s sensible advice, will keep it in mind, xx