Rural cancer patients often face a range of unique needs and stressors, compared to patients who live in metropolitan areas.
The below list demonstrates some of the financial, social, emotional, cultural and practical issues your rural patients may face, to help you understand and support them:
The need to travel for specialist treatment
- Accommodation and travel costs
- Absence from home (and associated costs of maintaining two residences)
- Absence from work (and associated loss of income)
- Incidental relocation expenses (e.g. telephone).
- Disruption to family life and traditional social/gender roles
- Isolation from family, friends and support networks
- Loss of contact with other cancer patients when returning to their rural community.
- Feelings of confusion and alienation when staying in an unfamiliar city
- Fearing that their absence from home is a burden for others.
- Extensive organisation required to relocate for treatment (e.g. care for animals)
- Difficulty navigating unfamiliar city and facilities
- Lack of adequate local medical services to deal with treatment side effects on returning home, such as lymphedema
- Lack of information that is relevant to people from rural areas.
Cultural and social issues
- There is often stigma surrounding the discussion of a cancer diagnosis within rural communities
- Concerns about gossip within the rural community and lack of personal privacy.