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New Cancer Council SA data released during National Carers Week reveals that nearly two-thirds of those caring for someone with cancer are experiencing high levels of emotional distress.

The data showed over 1,500 carers called Cancer Council 13 11 20 for free cancer information in 2022. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of these callers reported a distress score of 6 or more out of 10, a level that is of clinical significance.

With research showing that for every person diagnosed with cancer, three to five more people are seriously impacted, Cancer Council SA Information and Support Manager Amanda Robertson urged more carers and loved ones to reach out to Cancer Council’s Nurses when they need it.

“A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming and it’s common for carers to experience a range of feelings about their new role and responsibilities. Often these feelings are similar to those experienced by the person with cancer. Research shows that some carers can report even higher levels of distress,” she said.

“Cancer Council 13 11 20 is staffed by experienced cancer nurses who can provide information and support to anyone impacted by a cancer diagnosis, including family and friends.”

“Through our Cancer Connect Program, we can also connect callers with others who have been through a similar experience caring for someone with cancer. Talking to someone else who has cared for someone with cancer can help reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety.”

“We know that carers can often be so focused on taking care of their loved one, that they can start to ignore their own needs, and this can affect their health and wellbeing, relationships, work and finances.”

“This National Carers Week, we want to remind South Australian carers, and family and friends of someone with cancer, that we are only a phone call away.”

In 2007, Paula supported her mum through a breast cancer diagnosis. With her mum living in Bordertown in regional South Australia, Paula became her mum’s carer when she would travel to Adelaide for cancer treatment.

Paula reached out to Cancer Council 13 11 20 to help her navigate her emotions and support her family.

“Mum put on a brave face and wouldn’t show us kids that she was scared, hurting or worried. I struggled with this as I wanted to help and didn’t know how or what to do,” Paula said.

“I first reached out to Cancer Council 13 11 20 as I was a mess but was trying to hold it together for my family and didn’t know what I was doing or how best to support them.”

“Having a family or friend diagnosed with cancer can be a very isolating experience. There are so many emotions that are overwhelming during such a stressful time.”

“The Cancer Council Nurses at the other end of the phone were brilliant as I needed someone to talk to who wasn’t family and could help me to navigate my own emotions whilst helping my family through such a horrible time.”

Cancer Council 13 11 20 is a free information and support service for anyone impacted by a cancer diagnosis, including family and friends.

Cancer nurses can offer emotional support, help answer questions, provide relevant and trustworthy information, and direct callers to a range of other services and supports including accommodation, counselling, financial assistance, support groups and programs to assist with life after cancer.

Cancer Council’s Nurses are available from Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. For more information on Cancer Council 13 11 20, visit the Cancer Council SA website here.