Te tautāwhi me te whakaoranga

Support and Rehabilitation

Support and rehabilitation is an important part of cancer care for people and their whānau.

Being diagnosed with, receiving treatment for, living with or recovering from cancer can be challenging and stressful. People with cancer and their whānau may need support throughout their cancer journey. They may also need rehabilitation to help them return to work, home life and any other activities during and after treatment.


It is natural to have a wide range of feelings and concerns when it comes to cancer. You may have been recently told that you have cancer, be going through treatment, finishing treatment or have a friend or whānau member with cancer. Each person affected by cancer has individual needs which may be different to other people affected by cancer. Alongside emotional support needs, you may also have some practical support needs such as assistance with housing, transport and finances.

It may be helpful to talk to someone you're comfortable with such as your partner, friends and whānau. You can also speak to a social worker, psychologist or counsellor who can help with both emotional and practical needs. Sometimes talking to someone else with cancer can help too.

Hospital-based support

Cancer Psychological and Social Support teams

There are social workers and psychologists at each hospital who can provide emotional and practical support and assistance for people with cancer. Speak to your cancer nurse or doctor about a referral.

Cancer Nursing support

Each hospital has cancer nurse coordinators or cancer nurse specialists who are there to support you during your hospital-based care.

Community-based support

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play an essential role in reducing the incidence and impact of cancer for New Zealanders. They can provide care and support in partnership with the hospitals.

Here are some NGOs that offer support nationwide. Local areas may have a range of additional supports. Speak to your cancer team and local care providers for more information.

Type of Cancer
Contact Details
All cancers
Cancer Society
Child cancer
Child Cancer Foundation
Adolescent and young adult cancer
Blood cancers (leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma)
Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC)
Brain cancer
Brain Tumour Support Trust
Breast cancer
Breast Cancer Foundation
Prostate cancer
Prostate Foundation
Bowel cancer
Bowel Cancer NZ
Head and neck cancers
Cancer Society
Melanoma NZ
International Mesothelioma Center
Neuroendocrine cancer
NeuroEndocrine Cancer NZ (previously Unicorn Foundation)
Myeloma NZ
Lung cancer
Lung Foundation New Zealand
Gynaecological cancers (cervical, endometrial, ovarian, vaginal, vulval)
Gynaecological Cancer Foundation

Using Te Whare Tapa Whā dimensions to cope with cancer

The Māori holistic model of health, Te Whare Tapa Whā, reminds you to take care of all of the different dimensions of your life to support your wellbeing; using the dimensions is one way to help you cope with cancer.


Taha Tinana

phsyical wellbeing
  • Have a routine or structure to your day.
  • Eat and drink well – veggies, fruit and healthy grains and proteins. Don't binge; stick to meal routines. Avoid drinking more than 1 or 2 glasses of alcohol on any day and more than 14 std units/week.
  • Go outside, get fresh air.
  • Move your body – this might be walking around your home, having a boogie or following an at-home exercise session – whatever you can do with your current health and living situation.
  • Seek Rongoā Māori
Taha Wairua
spiritual wellbeing
  • Practice self-kindness – accept your thoughts and feelings, tell yourself you are doing your best, care for yourself.
  • Use strategies like mindfulness, meditation and relaxation exercises to help you feel less anxious. Keep doing things that reflect the values that are important to you.
  • In difficult times remember what is important to you.
Taha Whānau
family wellbeing
  • Talk to your whānau and friends, ask for their help to access the things you need.
  • Being kind and supportive to others is good for you too.
  • Keep up in touch and connected with whānau and friends on the phone, video, text, and other chat options
Taha Hinengaro
emotional wellbeing
  • Focus on the things that you can control.
  • Acknowledge and accept your thoughts and feelings. It is normal to feel more distressed currently.
  • Calming strategies – focus on the here and now, use distraction techniques. Don't forget to laugh.
  • Plan fun, enjoyment, pleasurable activities.
  • Restrict yourself to accurate sources of information
Whenua Land
  • Connect with nature – what can you see outside, explore your backyard, explore your local area.
  • Explore your family history or whakapapa, shares stories and experiences.

More resources to help cope with cancer

NEW Cancer Society, Support Crew and Sorted NZ have put together a guide to help you and your loved ones manage your money after being diagnosed with a serious or terminal illness. You can download the guide here.

Below are some other resources that may help you handle stress when dealing with cancer.

How can they help?
Contact Details
Mental Health Foundation
Mental health resources
Getting through together
Practical tips for looking after yourself and whānau
Fun wellbeing activities to support whānau to look after their wellbeing and feel good
Mental health
Just a thought
A course and resources to support your mental and emotional wellbeing
A collection of wellbeing content
A chatbot to help young people (13+) cope with stress
Health Navigator
Information on coping and how to look after yourself
Mental health support


Receiving cancer treatment can have a lasting effect on your health and wellbeing. The results of these treatments can develop unwanted side effects which can lead to significant impacts on your quality of life.

Cancer rehabilitation can help:

  • keep you active so you can continue doing the things you enjoy
  • reduce the side effects of treatment and unwanted cancer symptoms
  • you to be as independent as possible
  • improve your quality of life and wellbeing.

There are several cancer rehabilitation services. Talk to your doctor or nurse about what is available in your area.