Jo-Anne was only 32 and a single mum to a seven-year-old when she was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of sinus cancer, sinonasal glomangiopericytoma.
She was shocked and scared. Her grandmother, who had raised her, had died of cancer only three years before.
Jo-Anne found Cancer Council’s support services invaluable during this time.
“I probably wouldn’t have come through everything I’ve come through as well as I did without the support from the cancer nurse,” she said.
“They were the best support I could have asked for outside of my family.
“There was no judgement. I was never made to feel like I was bothering them or anything like that.
“They were only too happy to help, and they would talk as long as I wanted to talk.”
Before treatment started
The day before her surgery, Jo-Anne fell into a panic and was terrified she wasn’t going to wake up. So, Jo-Anne picked up the phone and dialed 13 11 20.
“Through no fault of my family or friends, I felt so isolated. I felt so alone. I had a cry to myself and tried to think positively,” Jo-Anne said.
“I remembered that when my Granny had been sick, the hospital gave us the details for Cancer Council on 13 11 20. I went outside and called them. I don’t remember what I said, but I remember crying. A lot. I remember babbling about being scared and not knowing what was going to happen, and I don’t really remember what that poor person on the other end of the phone said to me, but it calmed me down.
“They reassured me that I wasn’t alone in all this and that I was supported by the best doctors, with the best research and the best medical teams.
“I think the most calming thing of all was having that support there just to unload on. I hadn’t wanted to let my guard down at home, my daughter was scared enough and seeing me lose it wasn’t going to help her. My partner was fantastic, but he was scared too, and we were both so busy trying to be strong for each other and for my daughter that we didn’t let our fear have a voice.”
During treatment Jo-Anne called the nurses a number of times.
Jo-Anne was greatly reassured by the financial advice she received from Cancer Council, another of the support services offered.
“I had bills to pay, school fees, a mortgage, and I’d been told to expect at least six months off work,” she shared.
“I’d just started a new job and had no sick leave. I didn’t know how I was going to manage it.
“The nurses pointed me in the direction of some assistance I could claim and reassured me,
again, that things would be ok.”
Jo-Anne has called the nurses a number of times for support after her treatment.
“Even though it had been nearly five years since I’d called the nurses, they were still there, to help me again,” said Jo-Anne.
“They didn’t have answers to the profound questions I was asking, but they let me know it was ok to ask them. “Survivor’s guilt” I believe it’s called. Why me, and not them? I’ll never understand why, but I want to make sure I don’t waste the chance that I’ve got, that so many others don’t.
“I’m not sure if me being home didn’t make things harder for my family and friends, as I felt like I was getting in the way a lot and being at home alone some days with my mind wandering and nothing to distract me led me down a dark path again, and once again, I was asking “Why Me”. And once again, Cancer Council’s nurses were there to help me.
“I hope I don’t need to use the service again, but it’s comforting to know the nurses are there if I need them.”
Our cancer nurses and COVID-19
Our nurses are well-placed to support people who have general concerns around COVID-19, including patients who may have recently completed treatment or are in follow up, as well as carers and family members.
Not only do we offer our information and support services, but we can also advise you about other services available from government and non-profit organisations across the state.
Please contact us for information and support, to allow patients in active treatment to utilise hospital triage services.
The nurses are available from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. We're regularly monitoring the types and volumes of calls and will adapt our response to ensure we continue to meet your needs. If you need a translator to use this service, call 13 14 50.
If you or your loved ones are affected by cancer, you can call our experienced and compassionate cancer nurses on 13 11 20 or contact them through firstname.lastname@example.org