So, you’ve finished your cancer treatment and you’re finally heading home to that fresh country air you’ve been missing?
At Cancer Council SA, we understand the emotional rollercoaster that is cancer.
Although you’ve probably been looking forward to this moment for quite some time, it can often be met with a mix of emotions – from relief about returning to the comfort of your home, to nervousness and confusion about what may lay ahead.
You may also experience feelings of loneliness and/or isolation, having formed relationships and social connections with the medical staff and fellow patients at your hospital or cancer centre.
We’ve put together some useful information and resources to assist you and your loved ones in accessing support now that you are at home.
Liaising with your treatment specialist and local GP is a vital step to managing your health and wellbeing, especially as you may experience ongoing side effects from your treatment.
Nursing and medical staff at your hospital or cancer centre may be able to recommend and organise ongoing support for you when you get home, so it’s important to have a discussion about what support services you may need.
Tapping into their expertise will aid your recovery and ensure you feel as supported as you can upon your return home.
After undergoing cancer treatment, daily activities can often become more challenging, particularly if you have limited mobility or experience fatigue or other side effects from your treatment.
However, there are a number of options to help make life a little easier during your recovery:
- Order your shopping online (if this is available in your local area) and have your groceries delivered straight to your door. This is a quick and easy way to ensure your fridge and pantry are stocked with nutritious food, without having to worry about going to the supermarket or shopping centre yourself.
- Organise a meal delivery service to take the hassle out of shopping for and preparing meals, while helping you maintain a healthy and balanced diet. The delivery itself also offers social interaction, which can combat feelings of isolation and/or loneliness. Speak to your GP, community nurse or local council about meal delivery options available in your community.
- Purchase pre-cooked frozen meals to reduce preparation and cooking time. Most supermarkets have a variety of meal options in their freezer section to suit your tastes and preferences.
- Ask a friend or neighbour to run some errands for you, like buying your groceries or posting letters.
- Consider enlisting some help for tasks around your house, including cleaning and gardening. You may be able to find domestic assistance providers in your area in the local newspaper, on noticeboards, on the Internet or by contacting your local council. Staff at your local hospital may also be able to recommend providers of this support.
- Community support is often available to people living in rural areas. Your GP, community nurse or local council may be able to link you to these services.
- Call Cancer Council on 13 11 20 to speak to our caring and experienced cancer nurses who can offer support, advice and assistance about coping with the impact of cancer. Our team can also discuss programs and support services that may benefit you upon your return home.
At Cancer Council SA, we understand the impact cancer has on all areas of our lives, including finances.
Since your diagnosis and/or treatment, you may find your financial situation has changed. Maybe you’re not able to return to work for some time, or your carer has taken time off work to support you during your recovery? Maybe you’re now faced with additional expenses due to your cancer treatment?
Whatever the situation, addressing these concerns early is important in reducing the stress caused by financial hardship.
There are several things you can do to receive financial support and ease this burden:
- Contact Centrelink to discuss your eligibility for the Disability Support Pension, Mobility Allowances, Carer Payments, Carer Allowances and/or Sickness Allowances. You can do this by phoning 13 27 17 or visiting www.humanservices.gov.au.
- Speak to your superannuation fund to find out if you’re eligible to claim income protection, trauma insurance or are able to access your superannuation funds early.
- Discuss your situation with your utility providers (e.g. gas, water, electricity), banks and other lenders. They can make allowances for people experiencing financial hardship by extending payment periods and deferring or reducing loan repayments.
- Have a free and confidential discussion with Affordable SA. This service provides support, advice, resources and information for South Australians facing financial difficulties. The National Debt Helpline also offers free financial counselling.
- Ring Cancer Council SA on 13 11 20 to check your eligibility for legal and financial assistance.
Looking after your emotional wellbeing is just as important as your physical one, as it plays a vital role in how we deal with life’s ups and downs.
Returning home following the completion of treatment can often be met with a myriad of emotions, from relief, to uncertainty, confusion and loneliness.
Connecting with other people who share a similar diagnosis with you and understand the impact cancer has, through group or one-on-one support, is a great way to maintain your emotional wellbeing.
There are a number of Cancer Council SA support programs and groups available to you and your loved ones.
- Cancer Council SA’s Cancer Connect Program is a phone-based program that matches you with a volunteer who has been through a similar cancer experience. For more information on this program, call Cancer Council SA on 13 11 20 Monday-Friday 9 am – 5 pm.
- Speak to one of our experienced cancer nurses by calling Cancer Council SA on 13 11 20. If necessary, they will be able to refer you to the free Cancer Council Counselling Service, which provides over-the-phone or online counselling to cancer patients and their families who don’t live close to Adelaide.
- Call Cancer Council SA on 13 11 20 to join a telephone support group. If you live in a rural area this might be a good way of overcoming feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- Visit our online community support group.
If you’re feeling distressed and require urgent mental health assistance, phone the Rural and Remote Mental Health Service at any time of the day or night on 13 14 65 to speak to trained counsellors and mental health experts.
Your GP may also refer you to a local service for ongoing support, if you feel you would benefit from speaking to a trained mental health professional.
For further information and support, call 13 11 20 to speak to an experienced cancer nurse who can tailor information to meet your specific informational, emotional and practical needs.