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  • Providing ongoing support throughout a cancer diagnosis

    09 July 2019

    Every year, Cancer Council provides support to more than 5,000 South Australians impacted by cancer through Cancer Council 13 11 20.  

    A free information and support service manned by experienced cancer nurses, Cancer Council 13 11 20 is available to anyone impacted by a cancer diagnosis—be the person themselves, their families, friends or loved ones. 

    For 49 year-old Barbara, the 13 11 20 nurses have been by her side for more than five years. Barbara was first diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at 42 years of age. Despite losing her mum and grandmother to the disease, the diagnosis still came as a complete shock.

    “It doesn’t matter how many people you have seen go through cancer, or how many family members you have lost, to hear the news yourself is still devastating,” she said. 

    A single mum of teenage children, Barbara didn’t know where to turn—until she reached out to Cancer Council 13 11 20.

    “Cancer changes everything, your world really does come crashing down. I had a job and teenage kids and wasn’t getting the right help. I found housekeeping really difficult and generally needed some more support.” 

    “Through the nurses I arranged counselling sessions with the Cancer Council Counsellor. They also helped me by organising a housekeeper to come out to the house and give me a hand. I was also able to use the services of a lawyer and Financial Adviser from one of the wonderful organisation's that offer assistance for people with cancer,” she said.  

    Following her first diagnosis, Barbara enjoyed nearly five years cancer free, but just one month shy of the five year mark, she found out the unthinkable—her triple negative breast cancer was back. 

    This time, she underwent a mastectomy, but was unable to have further treatment due to medical complications. 

    Barbara thought she was over the worst of it, and then late last year, before her son’s wedding, she started feeling a strong pain in her chest.  A few weeks later she saw her breast surgeon and tests showed she had a tumour in her sternum. 

    Barbara was diagnosed with advanced metastatic disease in her bones and palliative care was recommended.   

    She reached out to the Cancer Council Nurses again for support, not only for her, but also for her family. 

    “It’s not easy for my friends, my family and my kids. Not knowing if I will make 50 and knowing all the things that we will miss out on because of cancer is truly heartbreaking.” 

    “Right from the beginning, Cancer Council was there to provide support. We rang the nurses when my mum was first sick and I have been in contact with them throughout my diagnosis and treatment. They have helped us pay bills and have supported us with the little things that you just can’t manage when a cancer diagnosis takes over your life.” 

    “What Cancer Council does is truly incredible. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be here without Cancer Council and the support that they provide. It’s not just for people with cancer, it’s for everyone impacted,” 

    This July, Barbara is sharing her story to encourage South Australians to fundraise for Cancer Council 13 11 20 by taking part in Dry July. 

    All the money raised for Cancer Council through Dry July in 2019 will go towards funding Cancer Council 13 11 20, ensuring that future generations can seek support whenever a cancer diagnosis impacts their life. 

    “It may be too late for me, but knowing that any money raised will help others is a great comfort. Through the support of Cancer Council 13 11 20 I was able to meet other people who were struggling. Every single nurse I’ve spoken to has given me a different bit of information I can use.”

    “I feel like an ambassador for Cancer Council SA and everything they do.” 

    Cancer Council 13 11 20 is a free information and support service manned by experienced cancer nurses. The service is available from Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.30pm. For more information visit cancersa.org.au.

    For more information about Dry July and to donate to support Cancer Council 13 11 20, visit dryjuly.com.au. 

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