Volunteers urgently needed for telephone support

Wednesday 11 June, 2008

Volunteers are urgently needed to join The Cancer Council's telephone peer support service, Cancer Connect.

Cancer Connect links cancer patients, survivors, family members and people who carry the cancer susceptibility gene with trained volunteers who have been through a similar cancer experience.

Demand for the service means ‘family' volunteers who have had a partner, family member or close friend diagnosed with cancer are needed to provide one to one telephone support to others. 

Dr Amanda Hordern, Deputy Director of the Cancer Council's Cancer Information and Support Service said many family members and caregivers needed support to help them cope with life after a cancer diagnosis. 

"Family members and carer's often put aside their own needs when looking after someone with cancer," Dr Hordern said.

"The person with cancer may be experiencing feelings of distress, and treatment side effects including pain, fatigue and mood changes can have a significant impact on relationships.

"Many carers are also taking on additional responsibilities such as everyday household jobs and extra work to ease financial burden which can be tiring and stressful.

"Cancer Connect gives people the opportunity to talk to someone who really does understand what they are going through.

"Our volunteers are available to listen to concerns and can empathise as they too have been through the physical and emotional roller coaster that a cancer diagnosis presents," she said.

Family Cancer Connect volunteer, Bev Davis said she joined the support program because she wanted to give back to the Cancer Council after receiving wonderful support when her 4 year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer.    

"I was so grateful for the emotional and practical support I received from my Cancer Connect volunteer," Mrs Davis said.

"Talking to close friends and medical professionals about my feelings and concerns was difficult as they hadn't been through the experience of having a child with a life threatening disease.

"Caitlan had 18 months of chemotherapy and it was several years before we started to feel our life getting back on track.

"I was able to talk to my volunteer without feeling like I was being judged or burdening family or friends," she said.

Mrs Davis now helps other parents cope with their child's cancer diagnosis.

"I listen to their concerns and share my own experiences including how I coped with the stress and guilt of having a child with cancer as well as how I handled the reactions of family, friends and work colleagues who didn't know what to say or do."

For more information or to receive an expression of interest form, please call the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20 or email cancer.connect@cancervic.org.au. Expressions of interest must be received by 30 June, 2008.

Full training will be provided to successful applicants. Please note, a minimum 18-month period since completion of cancer treatment or bereavement is required to be a Cancer Connect volunteer.

Available for interview:

Dr Amanda Hordern, Deputy Director, Cancer Information and Support Service
Bev Davis, Family Cancer Connect volunteer

Media Contact

Sophy Chirnside, Communications Officer
9635 5131/ 0408 518 613