Informal carers of cancer patients have high rates of burden, stress, anxiety and unmet needs; yet, some describe caregiving as fulfilling. Building on the work of Thomas and colleagues, this study takes a sociology of emotions approach to understanding variations in carers of cancer patients' emotional experiences, using interview data with 32 carers of a spouse with cancer. Analysis indicates that a clearly terminal (negative) prognosis facilitates clear priorities, unambiguous emotion management and improved social bonds. A more ambiguous (positive) prognosis, that includes a greater chance of survival, fosters role conflict, clashing feeling rules and ongoing guilt within spousal carers. This study highlights the importance of a prognosis to emotion management, underscoring a phenomenon that is likely to grow as survival rates continue to improve and explaining some of the variation in carers' experiences.