There are many things to think of when you find out you have advanced cancer. It's normal to experience a range of emotions and to need time to gather your thoughts and feelings. You and your family or carers will also need to consider practical and financial issues as well.
This page gives an overview of different organisations and services that can provide information and assistance for you and your family.
Cancer patients and carers who travel a long way for treatment can often get accommodation at or near the treatment centre. Facilities may be self-contained or shared, and the cost is sometimes subsidised.
Cancer patients who travel a long way to access special medical services not available locally can get financial help with travel and/or accommodation. See our financial help page for details.
See our financial assistance page.
The Australian Funeral Directors Association can provide a listing of funeral directors and estimates of funeral costs. It also has information on prepaying for a funeral or planning a funeral. Call 1300 888 188.
Support is available for people being cared for at home and their carers. Services vary from area to area. Some local councils provide a range of services, such as Meals on Wheels or respite care. Your palliative care team can also organise home help for you. Call your local council or speak to your palliative care team.
Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres: these are a one-stop shop for accessing free, confidential information about services that will help with your care and let you live independently for as long as possible. Call 1800 052 222.
Free home nursing can be arranged as part of palliative care. Private services are also available. If you have private health insurance, your policy may cover home nursing. Talk to your palliative care team, your private health fund or the Cancer Council Helpline (13 11 20).
A solicitor is the best person to ask about any legal matters. If you don't have a solicitor, contact us for our Legal Referral Service, which provides legal information, advice and referrals.
Palliative Care Australia provides information about palliative care services and facilities. Call 02 9206 2094.
Most large hospitals have a pastoral care worker who can talk to you about practical and spiritual concerns (from all religious and non-religious viewpoints). Contact your hospital.
Respite care is when a patient is looked after by someone other than their usual carer. This gives their regular carer a break and time to attend to their own medical or personal needs. Respite care can be for a few hours, overnight, or for blocks of time. Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres can organise respite care for you. Call 1800 052 222. Your palliative care team or hospital social worker will also be able to advise you.
The hospital social worker offers a range of services for you and your family, such as counselling and debriefing, and helping you to find solutions to practical, financial or family problems. They can provide a link between you and the hospital system, and they can help if you have any problems at the hospital. Contact your hospital or local community health centre.
Many people find joining a support group helpful. Support groups allow people with cancer to talk about their experiences, hopes and fears in a non-judgmental, caring environment.
Face-to-face groups: People talk of the strength they have found in sharing feelings and facing reality, as well as the laughter that's a part of any group. Meeting with others who understand what it's like to have cancer can be helpful. You may be reluctant to share your story or listen to other people's, but most people find that they benefit from the close bonds with other members.
Telephone support groups: If getting together with others in person isn't possible, you can join a telephone support group run by Cancer Council. There are groups for advanced cancer, carers and different cancer types.
Online discussion forums: People can connect with each other at any time, ask or answer questions or write a blog of their experiences.