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When you’ve been diagnosed with life-threatening cancer, you should be focusing all your energy on getting well. Sadly, for many South Australians like Vicki, cancer can come with unexpected and challenging mental, emotional and financial burdens, all of which can cause worry and anxiety at a time they can least afford it.

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Vicki’s cancer diagnosis caught her by complete surprise. As she explains, she was experiencing only the mildest of symptoms.

“I had a bit of a cough and a sore shoulder. I thought I’d just been sleeping funny. The doctors didn’t seem too worried. They put me on antibiotics and sent me for a chest x-ray.”

When her cough hadn’t cleared up two weeks later, Vicki was sent for further tests. Just a few days after her 47th birthday, a PET scan confirmed the worst. She had aggressive stage 1 lung cancer. The diagnosis was a crushing blow.

It all happened so quickly. My head just spun. When you hear a diagnosis like that it’s true what they say. Your whole life flashes before your eyes in an instant.

Within two short weeks, Vicki was in hospital getting ready for life-saving surgery.

There is never a good time to get cancer, but unfortunately for Vicki, the timing of her diagnosis and treatment could not have been worse. She’d only just moved into a new job in a casual position which meant she had no sick pay and no way to earn an income during her recovery.

A visit in hospital from a friend truly revealed to Vicki just how financially vulnerable she was.

“Someone brought some mail in for me and it was all bills. Electricity, gas and my car registration were all due. All my savings had already gone to paying for all the visits to the specialists.

When those bills started piling up, I was just so scared. I’ve never been in debt in my life. I kept feeling like I was drowning. I was waking up through the night, every night. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown.

Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse for Vicki once she started three months of intense chemotherapy.

“The doctors told me every time I had chest pain, I had to ring an ambulance straight away. As someone who’d just had a lung operation, that was pretty often.

“I also ended up getting a fluid build-up in the lungs, so I kept getting admitted back to hospital for that too. After the second time I called the ambulance, I had to start paying the bills.

“I wasn’t coping. I had no idea what to do about the whole money side of things.

Thankfully, for Vicki, and thousands of others, our Cancer Council 13 11 20 nurses are there to ensure help and support is just a phone call away.

Feeling overwhelmed, Vicki called Cancer Council 13 11 20 to ‘vent’ and speak to someone who understood, unaware the difference the phone call would make.

Vicki spoke to one of the experienced Cancer Council 13 11 20 nurses, who provided her invaluable emotional support and financial assistance to help her stay on top of her bills and pay for her treatment. After 40 minutes on the phone with Cancer Council 13 11 20, and some tears, Vicki’s mind was put at ease and she was able to get back on top of her finances.

When I got off the phone, I had everything in perspective. I knew what I had to do and how I could get it done.

Right now, you can help ensure our experienced and dedicated Cancer Council 13 11 20 nurses can continue to be a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on and a gateway to further life-changing information, so that no one has to go through cancer alone.

Your gift to Vicki’s Appeal will allow all South Australians impacted by cancer to have access to the support and advice they need, when they need it most, so that they can focus on what is most important: getting better and going home to the people who love them.

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If someone you know is impacted by cancer, Cancer Council 13 11 20 is here. Experienced cancer nurses are available on Cancer Council 13 11 20 from 9.00 am – 5.00 pm Monday to Friday.