I was concerned about money when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was 57 and living alone in Melbourne. My two adult sons were living overseas. My mum was in Israel with my sister, who was dying of thyroid cancer. My specialist explained my options for treatment in the public and private systems and offered to see me as a public patient, which really helped ease my money worries. I was put in touch with community groups, Jewish charities and the local council.
They helped me with many of my practical and financial difficulties – travel to and from the hospital, groceries, rent, and cleaning the house. It was also great to have the support of peers who knew what I was going through so I felt less alone. I had a really great team of people around me through my breast cancer journey. My breast care nurse was my saviour. She really knew what she was talking about and explained everything that was going to happen. She listened too and connected me with community supports.
I was put in touch with people in my community who had been through breast cancer. Friends would visit me, take me out for walks and stay with me when I was having night terrors. Volunteers even sat with me while I was having chemo. Some of them were cancer survivors themselves, which was great, as I sometimes didn’t want my friends to see me that way. Seeing a psychologist through the hospital made a big difference too, especially when my older sister passed away while I was facing my own treatment. Having these sorts of supportive care services makes me feel like I matter to someone, and that’s a great feeling.