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Last year, Cancer Council 13 11 20 received over 4,500 calls for information and support from South Australians impacted by cancer, including more than 500 men and women who had been affected by bowel cancer. And every one of those calls were answered by a Cancer Council SA nurse like Deb Roffe.

“In my work as a Cancer Council 13 11 20 information and support nurse, no two days are ever the same.

Many of the people I speak with have a cancer diagnosis, sometimes it may be a new diagnosis, whilst for others they have been living with their cancer for a long time. People ring for all sorts of different reasons. They may be worried about symptoms they are experiencing, or perhaps they are feeling alone and just need to chat, or they may have a question arising from information they have read. Sometimes they ring to simply share good news after they get test results. We often talk to family members too, helping them adjust to a new situation or supporting them in their caring role.

No matter who I talk to or what it is about, I simply love being available for those conversations. They can be sad, difficult or confronting, but I also hear from people that it can be so helpful and provides such a sense of relief, being able to openly ask questions or share concerns. And, for me, being able to help people, even if it’s just by listening to their story, is a rewarding experience.

Not only do people phone Cancer Council 13 11 20 to talk, we also connect with people via webchat or email—which can be a great option when people are feeling really upset, or having trouble communicating or just don’t know where to start a conversation. Sometimes people even drop in for a confidential chat in person.

No matter how people choose to contact us, we are always grateful to hear from them. It is especially rewarding when people reach out soon after diagnosis, knowing that we can support them throughout their whole cancer experience, through the ups and the downs, because there really are so many ways that we can help.

Cancer Council SA offers a broad range of services to support people with cancer, their carers, family and friends.  We can provide information you can trust through our printed resources or website. We can provide access to emotional support in person, on the phone or online, through our counselling service, or by connecting people with others who share a similar cancer experience. We provide supportive accommodation for country people travelling to Adelaide for treatment. We offer help to those experiencing financial hardship by connecting them with qualified professionals for advice and support with legal and financial matters. These supports can be invaluable to our clients in their time of need and means no one has to go through this experience alone.

And, when it comes to speaking with people affected by bowel cancer, this can be even more helpful.

Because bowel cancer has few symptoms often it is a great shock to people to hear that they have it. Most people also don’t know much about the treatment or what to expect. This can also lead to worry about how the treatment will affect them physically, as well as the impact this will have on work and relationships with family and friends”.

Our experienced team of Cancer Council 13 11 20 nurses are here and always happy to talk about all these issues and offer support or information as people need.

We are also strong advocates for finding cancer early.

By doing the faecal occult blood test (FOBT)—which is sent out to Australians over the age of 50 — you can help find bowel cancer early. For most people doing the test only takes a few minutes of their time but can save a lot of worry and stress. The test is free and easy to use, and it might make all the difference to you.

No matter what stage of the cancer experience you are at, nurses like Deb are here. To speak to a Cancer Council 13 11 20 nurse, access information and support about bowel cancer, or any cancer, call Cancer Council 13 11 20 Monday to Friday, 9.00 am – 5.00 pm, email, or webchat.