‘Been there, done that'? Lend a helping hand!

Tuesday 13 July, 2010

The Cancer Connect one-on-one peer support program is appealing for volunteers to support those affected by cancer.

Every year over 27,000 people in Victoria hear the words ‘you have cancer.' Cancer Connect puts these people in touch with others who can offer emotional and practical support and who have shared a similar diagnosis or treatment.

Family, friends and carers can also volunteer; using the challenges they faced in the past, they can help people who may be going through similar experiences now.

"It is good to realise how far you have come yourself and to review the choices you made at difficult times ... It makes you thankful that the experiences you had on your cancer journey can be used to help others and give them hope." - Cancer Connect volunteer

Dr Amanda Hordern PhD, Director, Cancer Information and Support Service, said that Cancer Connect provides a unique support network for those affected by cancer.

"This program allows volunteers to help people hundreds of kilometers away from the convenience of their own home, " Dr Hordern said. "Both the caller and the volunteer benefit tremendously. It's such a simple concept but it really works wonders for all involved."

Studies from the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer have shown that trained Cancer Connect volunteers can greatly benefit from their role in chatting to people with cancer.

Cancer Council Victoria is holding free training sessions for people who are at least two years post treatment; this helps to ensure that all volunteers are fully prepared and comfortable in offering support to those currently facing cancer. Travel and out-of pocket expenses to attend training will be reimbursed to successful applicants.

A rise in demand for the Cancer Connect Service means that Cancer Council Victoria is appealing to Victorians who have faced cancer, whether as a patient, family member, friend or carer. Personal understanding of cancer developed in the past can be used to help those currently facing the challenge.

To volunteer or for more information, please contact the Cancer Helpline on 13 11 20, or email cancer.connect@cancervic.org.au.

Updated: 13 Jul, 2010