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Welcome to another edition of Todd Talks.

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Staffed by experienced cancer nurses, our 13 11 20 Information and Support line is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Welcome to another edition of Todd Talks.

Thank you everyone who has shown their support for this monthly column. Please continue to ask questions, suggest topics, or let us know how we can help.

Calls about COVID-19 increase to our 13 11 20 Information and Support Line

This month I wanted to provide you with a glimpse into how Cancer Council Victoria helps people affected by cancer, and in particular the vital support provided for people during the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the community.

Our cancer nurses who work on the 13 11 20 Information and Support Line provide support to anyone affected by cancer – whether its patients, carers, family or friends who need cancer related advice and information  . There are many ways the team help including financial counselling for people struggling to cope with the costs of cancer, emotional counselling for those dealing with the huge psychological strain of a diagnosis or access to our free wig service for people who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment, or coping with the significant disruptions to our healthcare system.

Recently, the increase in COVID-19 cases across the state after Victoria opened up in October after lockdown , coupled with January’s Omicron wave and Code Brown alert being called across Victorian hospitals resulted in the team receiving a sharp surge in people calling 13 11 20 about COVID-19 related matters. While overall, calls for support have increased throughout the pandemic, people were more anxious than ever – looking for information and reassurance during this uncertain time, particularly if they were isolating and could not access their usual support networks. 

Many of the people we help who are immunocompromised, went into a self-imposed lockdown after Victoria’s lockdown ended and are waiting until the Omicron wave passes, as they did not want to risk contracting COVID-19. This resulted in increased isolation and loneliness. 

Kathrine was among hundreds of thousands of immunocompromised Australians who have gone into a self-imposed lockdown as they wait for the Omicron wave to pass. Kathrine is in remission from ovarian cancer and has spent the past two years trying to protect herself and her family from COVID-19. Before she was vaccinated, Katherine frequently stopped working her job at a supermarket whenever coronavirus cases surged. She still avoids crowded places and stays home as often as she can. 

Earlier this year, Kathrine contracted COVID-19. She was not well enough to line up at a testing clinic and unable to secure enough rapid antigen tests. Weeks later, she still feels the lingering effects of the virus. Sadly, Katherine is not alone in her experience. You can read Katherine’s story here

Through our 13 11 20 information and support line, we hear directly from people affected by cancer and work hard to share these experiences with the sector to make improvements. We’ve worked hard to develop accurate, evidence-based information to support people’s questions about possible impacts on treatment if they test positive to COVID-19.

We continued to promote 13 11 20 as a key support for those who are facing challenges at this uncertain time. 

It is so reassuring for the Victorian community that our experienced cancer nurses are on the end of the line, providing a safe place for people to turn to - to be heard and provided with expert advice. Our services are life changing for people in need. If you or someone you know is worried about cancer, encourage them to call our free  13 11 20 service.

Our Cancer Research Giving Day raises over $400,000

Recently, our Cancer Research Giving Day was held, coinciding with World Cancer Day. On behalf of everyone here at Cancer Council Victoria, I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for everyone who generously supported us on the day. It’s because of this widespread support we were able to go above and beyond our target and raise $432,864. I was heartened by the conversations I was able to have with some of our supporters on the day, as I got on the phones. Reading the heartfelt comments left on the Giving Day page really capture the impact of the work we are able to do here at Cancer Council Victoria. Thank you to everyone who contributed on the day. Each donation on the day was doubled and provided twice the impact to fund world-class local research to improve diagnosis, detection and treatment for every cancer.

Until next time

Thank you for your support. Stay safe and I look forward to providing more updates next month in the next edition of Todd Talks. Have a question for me? Ask away!