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Cancer support, delivered locally

Tuesday 18 April, 2023

When met with a cancer diagnosis, living regionally can often add another layer of difficulty for those navigating the healthcare system.  

Not knowing what services are accessible, having limited services available in your area, and often needing to travel to treatment or appointments can often become overwhelming for those across regional Victoria.  

Living in Bendigo, 13 11 20 Clinical Nurse Specialist Zeina Hayes knows how a cancer diagnosis can be impacted by where you live. In addition to working with Cancer Council 13 11 20, Zeina also works clinically in the region as a breast care nurse.  

“Living and working in regional Victoria myself, I understand just how complicated it can get when trying to figure out what services are available and which ones are close by.” 

13 11 20 Nurse Zeina Hayes

“I’m able to use that regional knowledge every time I pick up a call on Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 support line, and it’s always an extra layer of understanding that I’m able to provide for those calling from regional areas and are feeling overwhelmed with the concerns that come with that.” 

“I can reach into my toolkit of knowledge of services in different areas, and it helps me think outside the box when brainstorming potential services that the person calling may not have thought about before.” 

Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 support line is run by nurses that are located across Victoria, from Ballarat and Bendigo to Geelong and the Hume area.  

By calling our experienced and trusted cancer nurses on 13 11 20, you can access the support you need. It’s free, confidential, and available for anyone affected by cancer who has a question – those diagnosed as well as their family, friends, and carers. 

As part of Cancer Council Victoria’s ACCESS Project, Zeina spends time visiting health services in Bendigo and other regional areas to raise awareness of our 13 11 20 service. The Accessing Cancer Care Equitably using Support Services (ACCESS) program aims to improve access to supportive care for people affected by cancer.  

“Recently I visited Mildura public and private hospital and spoke to health professionals about how they can refer patients to the service.” 

“Rather than put the responsibility on those going through a cancer experience to seek out support, we’re teaching health professionals how to refer people to 13 11 20. We receive that referral and then reach out directly to that person and offer support.” 

The project has seen the number of referrals for 13 11 20 support services almost triple from 2021 to 2022.  

“We’re living in a time where nurses are under great stress, with staffing shortages and demanding workloads. For a person experiencing cancer, it can be hard to get the answers you need.  

“That’s why 13 11 20 is so wonderful, because it bridges that gap and helps health professionals provide support to those experiencing cancer.” 

Head of Cancer Information and Support Services at Cancer Council Victoria, Katherine Lane, said the ACCESS project allows for collaboration with health services and health professionals in regional Victoria.  

“We are committed to ensuring that all Victorians have access to trusted information and supportive care services, no matter where they live.” 

“Through the ACCESS project we can build sustainable referral pathways that can assist in meeting the demand for support services and filling the gaps in care.” 

For support from someone who really knows cancer, contact our cancer nurses on 13 11 20. Our nurses are available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.  

Get support

Visit our Cancer and COVID-19 information and support hub, or call 13 11 20 to speak to our trusted and compassionate cancer nurses for support.

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