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Cancer support a phone call away

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Max Davies
Max Davies
Max is a journalist for the North Central Review. He joined the paper as a cadet journalist in 2021 and graduated from La Trobe University in 2023. He takes a keen interest in motorsport and the automotive industry.

From 2017 to 2021, 4892 people in the City of Whittlesea were diagnosed with cancer, including 954 in 2021.

Cancer Council Victoria’s 13 11 20 information and support line has provided endless support to those with cancer, offering a free support service available Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm for anyone affected by cancer, including family members and carers, to call a qualified cancer nurse about a range of issues relating to cancer.

The 13 11 20 line received 7372 enquires statewide since January 1, 2023.

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Cancer nurse Elaine Cook said with demands on healthcare services, some people in regional areas were unable to find needed cancer support.

“We hope that 13 11 20 is here to help fill that gap,” she said.

“Our aim for people facing cancer – whether it’s the person facing cancer, their family members or their carers – is that they will reach out to us and speak to us to really help navigate the health system.

“It’s such a safe place for them to have a chat. We’re all experienced cancer nurses here on the line and that gives them a sense of trust when they do call.”

Calls to 13 11 20 are not time restricted.

“That’s probably the biggest difference for patients who have been seen in a clinical setting, where sometimes they feel like they don’t want to ask a question because there is not always enough time,” Ms Cook said.

“That’s a real gift, I feel, that we can give them as much time as they need, which is quite nice.”

A comprehensive Cancer Services Guide is available at www.cancervic.org.au/servicesguide.

It includes more than 470 services statewide and covers topics such as physical health and wellbeing, support for culturally diverse communities, services offered to survivors, and organisations and agencies providing practical and financial assistance.

Ms Cook said Cancer Council Victoria was for all Victorians regardless of where they lived.

“No matter where they live, everyone should have access to support. It’s lovely to hear feedback from someone who feels really isolated and say ‘I’m so glad I called today’ or ‘thanks for giving me the time today’,” she said.

“I often say to people living with cancer, cancer is a part of your life, but it doesn’t have to overtake your life.

“You’re still a person in all of that. We’re here to help you through that. You are not alone.”

More information is available at www.cancervic.org.au/get-support/cancer-support.

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