How did your diagnosis impact you financially?

Jeanie's picture
Posted by Jeanie in BCNA, on 25 Mar 2014, 02:33PM

The autumn edition of The Beacon and The Inside Story are now available to read online or download.

This edition focuses on practical matters such as returning to work, accessing superannuation and income protection insurance. 

As always, we would love you to share your experience, tips and advice by commenting on this blog post.

  • Did you return to work after your breast cancer?
  • How did your diagnosis impact on you financially?
2 members recommend this post


Hi Jeanie

tannie53's picture

This has been a big issue for me. I was a junior primary teacher (contract) and was offerred a placement for 2014 but decided to not to take it as it wouldn't be fair to myself or for the students. Teaching isn't a job you can only half do. My hsband has a small business but it is not going well and we have found ourselves in a very difficult financial position. I am 53 years old and I have tried to have early access to my super (just a samll amount to help us get through) but it is proving to be very difficult. I have provided letters from my doctor but they require very specific wording and I have to keep going back to the dcotor to get the letter changed. Third time lucky at this time and we hope we get a positive response but this has been ongoing for 3 months! I have finally had to go to Centrelink to see if we are eligible for sickness benefits and we are waiting for their decision. This is also putting extra strain on our relationship. It isn't what you want to be dealing with at this time. 

Thanks for listening to my grumbles!


Quick update

tannie53's picture

The oncologist has said she doesn't want to make any more changes to the original letter so that is the end of that as far as the superannuation goes! Hopefully Centrelink comes through okay. 


Jeanie's picture

Hi Tanya

Thanks for sharing your sounds incredibly like you've had a really frustrating time. Please keep us posted on what happens with Centrelink.

If you haven't already seen it, you might find our Financial and practical assistance fact sheet helpful. You can read it online or print it out here:

In the meantime, all the best with Centrelink! Fingers crossed.



Erica's picture

I have found it difficult, I went to graduate back to work a couple of months ago but was rejected, being told that because I was on my own income insurance and not work cover-they didnt have to return me to work untill I was fit for full duties! Which in itself is hard because I have a laboring job really. I since have left my home, belongings and all because it was the last kick finaciually and I couldnt afford to live by myself and un suported anymore. Only now this week have I been accepted back on ristricted days but full duties...which poses another problem of wondering when I will be paid next and from employer or my insurance. Im now currently boarding at a friends and really dont know where to from here. I have done two shifts this week and while I think I done armpit is stinging by the end of it. .... :/ 

Jeanie's picture

Hi Erica

I'm so sorry to hear how difficult things have been for you. Thankfully your friends are there to support you while you figure out what to do next.

Cancer Council NSW has some information about returning to work after treatment that you might find useful, in particular the Employment and cancer fact sheet here:

All the best Erica.



Erica's picture

Thank you Jeanie, will definatly be checking those out.. 

Being diagnosed whilst on Maternity Leave

NarelleD's picture

I was diagnosed whilst on Maternity Leave having had my 2nd baby.  Due to this my parents who are on the aged pension have been paying my medical expenses.  It has been tough on all concerned however my parents want me to have the best treatment possible and therefore are willing to help out as much as they can.  This has also meant that I have been able to access medical assistance close to home rather than having to travel.  There is no way we would have been able to afford the medical costs on my partners income as well as support our children, we have 3 at home as my partner's son also lives with us.

Spent redundancy and Sickness Allowance don’t go together

LInda21's picture

I wish to share my experience with the pitfalls of being diagnosed after receiving a redundancy, regaining employment and then subsequently being denied Sickness Allowance payment from Centrelink at the commencement of unpaid sick leave.

I was made redundant late 2013.  During the period of unemployment I was informed by Centrelink that I wasn’t eligible for any payments for several months.  That was fine, as it was always my intention to regain employment, which I achieved within a few weeks.  I subsequently spent a significant portion of redundancy money on home repairs and improvements, paying off large debts etc.

Shortly after starting my new job I was diagnosed and due to the short duration of employment, I very quickly ran out of sick leave.  My employer suggested that perhaps I could come in to work early to make up lost time spent at appointments and that I create a spreadsheet to log all the time I was absent, in 15 minute increments so it could be used for my leave without pay forms.  I therefore made sure I spent as little time as possible attending appointments, dashing out of work to get to appointments and rushing back afterwards, which was very stressful particularly when some appointments consisted of learning upsetting information.

In anticipation of more time off work, I advised Centrelink that I would be applying for Sickness Allowance and spent a significant amount of time filling out the lengthy form and making an appointment with my GP just to obtain a Centrelink medical certificate.  It took a month to be notified that this allowance was not approved to commence until the date I would have been eligible for Newstart Allowance, had I not already gained employment – i.e. a two month delay.  This was due to Centrelink considering the redundancy payment to be unspent income. 

In early February 2014 I had a bi-lateral mastectomy and TRAM reconstruction, which necessitated six weeks off work with no pay, return to work late March 2014.  

I lodged an appeal with Centrelink in an attempt to bring forward the commencement date of payments, on the grounds that I had spent the redundancy.  Unfortunately as I had more than $542 in my bank account at that time, this was denied as I wasn’t deemed to be in severe financial hardship.   I wasn’t aware of this criterion in order to be eligible for reconsideration.  The funds in my account had actually been re-drawn from my home loan and were to be used to pay for bills and food. 

While I was off work recuperating I received a notice from Centrelink notifying me that I had an appointment to attend relating to Newstart Allowance and I needed to provide details of my recent job search efforts.  It took several phone calls, each time on hold for over an hour to explain that I already had a job, that I was off work on unpaid sick leave and it was my intention to return to work asap.  As it turned out, my return to work was in the same week as Centrelink payments were due to start, therefore I received one week reduced payment due to first week back at work being half days.   (I returned to work one week early for financial reasons).  

The whole time I was off work I received no income or allowance from Centrelink.  As a single parent, it has been a significant financial set-back.  If I didn’t have a home loan that I could re-draw from, perhaps I may have had to consider defaulting on bills.  In all I have lost six weeks income, defaulted on six weeks home loan repayments and additionally re-drawn on home loan payments in advance, something I could ill-afford.

I hope this information is helpful to someone else in the future.


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