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Support when you have cancer

Being diagnosed with cancer can be a life-changing experience. It can lead to feeling uncertain about our futures, worry about family, stress, and fear. It is important to create strong supports around us to help us get through hard times. Below are some recommended support services if you or someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer. 

And keep in mind that overall, cancer survival rates have improved dramatically. The Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing reports that 70% of all people diagnosed with cancer survive at least five years after diagnosis, up from 51% about 30 years ago. (This statistic does not include survival rates for some skin cancers, if you would like more information on these then you can read the full report.) 

Counterpart

Counterpart, a service of Women’s Health Victoria, connects, informs, and supports women with cancer to live well. Counterpart offer a range of services including: 

  • One-on-one peer support provided by trained volunteers who have a lived experience of cancer 
  • Reliable information on cancer treatment to allow adequate decision-making 
  • Events and programs in Victoria on a range of sessions including wellness, making connections, exercise programs and information sessions 

Counterpart have recently launched a video series in which women who have had cancer share their stories. As Counterpart say, ‘the support, comfort and connection we gain from sharing stories and experiences is powerful’.

Here is Donna’s video, and you can check the Counterpart website for more stories as they are released. 

Think Pink

The Think Pink Foundation focuses on helping those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Think Pink supports people from diagnosis, through to treatment and survivorship. 

They offer a range of programs, free of charge, aimed at improving patient outcomes, wellbeing and quality of life. 

OlderCan

OlderCan provides advice and support for older Australians who have been diagnosed with cancer. OlderCan cover a range of topics related to diagnosis, treatment and finding the right doctor.  

They also offer support to people who care for someone with cancer. Some of this advice is specifically for older people who are caring for a friend or loved one with cancer. 

In this video, Elizabeth talks about caring for her partner of twenty years, Jill, who had a stroke and was then diagnosed with lung cancer during treatment. Jill wrote a pamphlet talking about challenges and support available when you become a carer for a loved one.

Cancer Council Australia

Cancer Council Australia provides research, prevention and support related to cancer. They also have a directory called My Cancer Guide, to how you find a support service that is right for you.  

Cancer Council Australia are committed to providing inclusive advice, with their practitioners undergoing specific training to ensure that those affected by cancer get access to the support they need. 

Cancer Council Victoria also have an information leaflet online which contains advice for people supporting someone with cancer 

Managing Daily Life

Managing Daily Life is a great resource that can be used as a guide to help you manage and adjust to your new normal. Some topics covered in this resource include managing emotions and grief, exercise, sexuality and intimacy and finding ways to manage anxiety and stress. 

Cancer Resources in Languages other than English

Peter MacCallum have translated cancer information into other languages to help you better understand your diagnosis and treatment options. 

Cancer Resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Our Mob and Cancer Australia recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have unique experiences with cancer. Together, they developed a website that provides information on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and finding support. 

References

Cancer Council (no date) What is cancer? 

Collatuzzo G, Boffetta P (2023) Cancers attributable to modifiable risk factors: a road map for prevention. Annual Review of Public Health. 44: 279-300. 

Firkins J, Hansen L, Driessnack M, Dieckmann N. (2020) Quality of life in "chronic" cancer survivors: a meta-analysis. Journal of Cancer Survivorship. 14: 504-517. 

Lisy K, Langdon L, Piper A, Jefford M. (2019) Identifying the most prevalent unmet needs of cancer survivors in Australia: a systematic review. Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology. 15(5): 68-78. 

Stein CJ, Colditz GC. (2004) Modifiable risk factors for cancer. British Journal of Cancer. 90(2): 299-303. 

World Health Organisation. (2022) Cancer - key facts. 

Zamanian H, Amini-Tehrana M, Jalali Z, Daryaafzoon M, Ala S, Tabrizian S, et al. (2021) Perceived social support, coping strategies, anxiety and depression among women with breast cancer: evaluation of a mediation model. European Journal of Oncology Nursing. 50(101892).