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Cancer Council answering the call

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Grace Frost
Grace Frost
Hi, I'm Grace Frost. I was honoured to report for the Review as their Digital Journalist from mid-2022 to the beginning of 2024. Ive since made a move to the Herald Sun.

An information and support line is available for cancer patients, their carers and families, with a qualified nurse ready to answer questions and queries.

A total of 1312 people in Mitchell Shire were diagnosed with cancer between 2017 and 2021, including 281 diagnosed in 2021 alone.

This year, 2422 regional Victorians made enquiries to Cancer Council Victoria’s 13 11 20 information and support line.

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The 13 11 20 phone line is a free support service available Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, with a qualified cancer nurse answering questions on a range of issues relating to cancer.

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.

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It includes over 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 here 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.”

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