Calls to Cancer Council's information and support line jump 15 per cent amid pandemic

Thursday 28 May, 2020

Half of all calls and emails received by Cancer Council Victoria nurses since lockdown restrictions were introduced in Victoria in March and April have been from cancer patients worried about COVID-19 and cancer.

Cancer Council’s Information and Support Line 13 11 20 experienced a substantial increase in contact, particularly in the first four weeks post-COVID-19. On average, 183 calls were received each week, up 15 per cent on this time last year. Approximately 90 per week were related to coronavirus concerns.

Initially, most contact related to practical support. One in three calls were about unforeseen issues such as wondering if it’s still safe to attend treatment, and if so, how to get there if friends and family are self-isolating.

But Cancer Council Victoria Head of Strategy and Support Danielle Spence said more people are now reaching out for emotional support. “Living with cancer can be extremely lonely and isolating, even more so in the middle of a health crisis,” she said.

“We know that as restrictions ease we will see more cases of COVID-19, which is why immunocompromised people, such as those with cancer, still need to be vigilant. But the loss of social connection can be exceptionally overwhelming for people who are already trying to cope with the physical, emotional and financial stresses associated with cancer.

“We need to make a commitment to support the most vulnerable in our communities at all times, not just in this time of COVID. Something as simple as dropping off food or mowing the lawn can make a big difference to someone who is impacted by cancer.”

Cancer Council Victoria Head of Supporter Experience Bernadette Kennedy said this year’s Biggest Morning Tea provided a perfect opportunity to check in on loved ones.

“Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea is a great time to get innovative and find new ways to ‘come together’. It could be a virtual morning tea or small gathering with family, friends or colleagues, a cuppa with those in your household or you could even raise a mug to your neighbour across the driveway,” she said.

“The reality is that while many of us have had our lives put on hold, cancer doesn’t rest so it’s critical
that we continue to provide ongoing vital support to all Australians who have been affected by cancer.

Every dollar raised through Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea will help fund Cancer Council’s life-saving research, prevention and support services, including our Information and Support Line 13 11 20.”

Cancer Council’s Information and Support Line 13 11 20 and free wig service are 100 per cent community funded. By hosting a virtual morning tea or a small morning tea with family or housemates this May or June, you’ll be making a difference to those impacted by cancer. For more information, ideas or to register, visit www.biggestmorningtea.com.au or call 1300 65 65 85.

If you’re unable to host or participate in a morning tea yourself and still want to contribute, you can donate directly through the website at biggestmorningtea.com.au