Demand on support services continues to grow

Thursday 26 May, 2016

The demand on Cancer Council Victoria's support services continues to grow each year as the number of Victorians affected by cancer increases.

The organisation's specialist cancer nurses provided information and support through 11,774 phone calls and emails via 13 11 20 and askanurse@cancervic.org.au in 2015.

This is an increase of 10% from the previous year, with the upward trend replicated across other support programs.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said support services were critical in helping to improve quality of life.

"With the number of cancer diagnoses expected to increase each year due to an aging population, it's so important that we can provide support services, not only for individuals themselves, but also their carers, friends and colleagues," Mr Harper said.

Funds raised from this year's Australia's Biggest Morning Tea will go a long way to helping continue the provision of services like 13 11 20 and to develop new programs to cater for increasing need.

Today is the official date of Australia's Biggest Morning Tea, but Victorians can host an event any time during May or June by registering at www.biggestmorningtea.com.au or calling 1300 65 65 85.

"We rely on the generosity of the Victorian community to be able to provide these services, which are wholly donor funded," Mr Harper said.

"We continuously look to improve our support services, and to ensure we're able to help people effectively from the point of diagnosis, through treatment, and beyond, as well as everyone else around the patient who is also deeply affected."

Cancer Council Victoria Family Connect volunteer Alyce Wilson was 12 years old when her mum was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I have memories of putting together a timetable to make sure the house ran properly while mum was undergoing treatment and was in hospital, looking after my little sister and making meals. I had to grow up very quickly," Alyce said.

Alyce's mum underwent 11 surgeries and chemotherapy, a very intense and stressful time for the family.

Through the phone-based Family Connect program, Alyce connects with other teenagers/young adults whose parent has been diagnosed with cancer and is able to share her experience.

"I can speak to them about their fears and shock of potentially losing a parent, as well as all of the practical issues that come along with a cancer diagnosis. I can offer a perspective of someone who has been there before."

Mr Harper said the funds raised through Australia's Biggest Morning Tea go towards important programs like Family Connect, and also Cancer Connect. This is an equivalent service for those who have been diagnosed with cancer.

"With 1 in 3 Victorians developing cancer by the age of 75, it's so important that we're there for them, and their families and friends, so I encourage everyone to host an Australia's Biggest Morning Tea to help us support them," he said.