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Practical issues after a cancer diagnosis include:

 

The time and costs associated with cancer treatment and recovery can have a significant impact on your financial situation. Your hospital social worker or the Cancer Council WA Cancer Support Coordinator may be able to provide you with some information and refer you to Cancer Council WA for some help with practical measures to manage your finances.

Cancer Council WA Financial Hardship Program

Financial assistance is available through Cancer Council WA to eligible cancer patients who are undergoing active treatment or who are palliative, and who meet the financial hardship criteria. To find out if you are eligible, you need to meet with the social worker at your treating hospital or the Cancer Council WA Cancer Support Coordinator.  If you do not have access to a social worker at your treating hospital you can phone our 13 11 20  Cancer Information and Support Line.

Financial Planning

If you need assistance with financial planning, we may be able to connect you to a financial planner. Qualified financial planners can help you with a variety of issues including:

  • Applying for Centrelink benefits
  • Budgeting
  • Planning for retirement
  • Superannuation and insurance
  • Debt management

For more information about financial planning services and to check your eligibility please phone our 13 11 20  Cancer Information and Support Line.

If you are a Financial Planner and you would like to be part of the program please contact the National Pro Bono Case Manager, on 1300 852 295 or email probono@cancercouncil.org.au.

Centrelink Financial Assistance

The Centrelink website will provide you with more information about the options and services available to you.

You may be eligible for Centrelink benefits, pensions and help to pay for the cost of prescription medicines.  You may also be eligible for Centrelink Payments. Carers may qualify for the Carers Allowance and/or the Carers Payment.

National Debt Helpline

The Financial Counsellors Association of Western Australia offers a free telephone service to assist people with financial difficulties. Phone 1800 007 007 or visit their website.

All Cancer Council WA resources can be downloaded or requested by phoning our 13 11 20  Cancer Information and Support Line.

You may be confused about legal matters and need to get things in order. If you need assistance with legal matters, we may be able to connect you to a qualified lawyers from Cancer Council WA’s Legal Referral Service, who can help you with:

  • Drafting your will
  • Appointing a power of attorney
  • Early access to superannuation
  • Credit and debt issues
  • Mortgage hardship
  • Insurance claims and disputes
  • Employment and discrimination issues
  • Tenancy disputes

For more information about our Legal Referral Services and to check your eligibility please phone our 13 11 20 Cancer Information and Support Line.

If you are a lawyer and you would like to be part of the program please contact the National Pro Bono Case Manager, on 1300 852 295 or email probono@cancercouncil.org.au.

Other legal assistance services

Community Legal Centres are not for profit, non-government organisations that provide legal and welfare services.

Services provided by Community Legal Centres include legal information, advice and representation to individuals and groups, community education and law reform activities and advice to governments on policy issues. Most services are free or at a very low cost, but may have eligibility criteria. The Legal Aid WA website has also more information.

It is important to understand that the law varies across the states in Australia, so for advice that is specific to your personal needs it is important to speak to a lawyer who specialises in the area you are interested in.

All Cancer Council resources can be downloaded or requested by phoning our 13 11 20  Cancer Information and Support Line.

Cancer and the workplace

Cancer Council WA had developed a series of 6 workplace fact sheets to assist managers and human resource professionals to provide a supportive and fair work environment. These fact sheets provide information about cancer, treatment and side effects, and outline practical suggestions for workplaces.

Workplace Advisory Service

This service links patients and carers with specialist human resources and recruitment professionals, who provide advice and support on workplace issues before and during treatment.

This free program can help you to:

  • Manage workplace issues before, during and after treatment
  • Disclosing a diagnosis
  • Managing expectations
  • Coping with side effects at work
  • Taking leave
  • Managing discrimination, bullying and harassment
  • Transition back into the workforce after a period off work for treatment
  • Reviewing resumes
  • Role-playing interviews
  • Connecting with recruitment services

For more information and to check your eligibility for our Work Place Advisory Services please phone our 13 11 20  Cancer Information and Support Line.

All Cancer Council resources can be downloaded or requested by phoning 13 11 20.

Small Business Advisory Service (Self-employment)

Many Australians run their own business or work as a freelancer, contractor, farmer or entrepreneur. They may be a sole trader or employ other people. The below information relates to support for self-employed West Australian’s who are impacted by cancer.

Making a decision about not working

A major concern when you are diagnosed with cancer may be how, and if, you can keep your business running.

Many self-employed people with cancer find ways to have cancer treatment while keeping their business on track. Depending on the nature of your business, self-employment can give you more control over your work schedule and allow you to manage the time needed for treatment or recovery.

The decisions you make will depend on your individual circumstances. It will help to get as much information as you can about the cancer and the possible side effects, so you know how it may affect what you can do. If you rely on your income or if your business has been a major focus of your life, taking time off or not working may be a major concern.

If you are uncertain about what to do, discuss your options with family or friends. You could also seek professional financial advice. Your options might include:

  • Checking existing insurance policies for entitlements.
  • Claiming early entitlements from your superannuation fund.
  • Talking to Centrelink about government benefits.

Managing your business

To keep your business running, you may need a plan to manage the changes caused by treatment. Talk to your health care team about what to expect from treatment as this might help you decide what you can handle. These suggestions may help you. It’s important to:

  • Be realistic about how much work you can continue to do.
  • Decide what has to be done now and what can be left until later.
  • Use your energy to do the tasks that you enjoy the most or that you must do yourself.
  • Consider subcontracting, hiring temporary staff, or asking friends in the same trade or profession to lend a hand.
  • Ask for or accept any offers of help from family and friends.
  • Consider working from home or changing your role.
  • Let any staff you have know what changes you are making to keep the business running.
  • Aim to finish any high-priority work before you start treatment.
  • Think about other ways to do your job. Could you work from home instead of travelling?  Would it be practical to use technologies such as smartphones and the internet instead of meeting face-to-face?  If you ship merchandise, could a fulfilment house handle this temporarily?
  • Check any existing insurance policies for entitlements and let your insurance company know about changes to your work situation.
  • Contact our 13 11 20 Cancer Information and Support Service for more information on the Small Business Advisory Service.

Telling clients about the cancer

You do not have to disclose your cancer diagnosis to your clients. Your instinct might be to keep the news of your diagnosis private, but if you want to talk about it, you should decide who to tell, what to say and how your business will continue to meet ongoing commitments. Some people choose to tell only established clients. Other factors to consider when sharing your cancer diagnosis include:

  • Being direct and talking about what you know. For example, confirm your working hours.
  • Communicate your abilities and emphasise your strengths with statements such as, “My hours may change, but the project will be under control and completed on time”.
  • Try to maintain a professional relationship with your client. You may not want to share your fears and insecurities.
  • If you have physical side effects such as hair loss, you may want to postpone meetings in person. Use technology, such as email or conference calling, to stay in touch. If you have told the client about the cancer, you may feel comfortable wearing a head scarf to meetings.
  • Be prepared for a range of reactions if you tell the client about your health. Some people will be compassionate; others may be more aloof. A client may choose to employ someone else.
  • Think about alternative or flexible ways of working that could suit both your needs.
  • Consider hiring a subcontractor or refer the client to someone else in your field if you can’t meet the client’s needs.

Financial issues

For self-employed people who do not have paid personal or annual leave, taking time off for cancer treatment may mean being without income for several weeks or months, which can be difficult. The following services may ease the financial burden of a cancer diagnosis for self-employed West Australians:

  • Consult a financial or business advisor – this professional can help you assess your financial position and come up with strategies about how to manage your situation. They can also give you suggestions about dealing with debts and help you if you need money urgently. For information about financial counselling and to find a counsellor, see financialcounsellingaustralia.org.au.
  • Look into claiming on other insurance policies – you may hold relevant policies, such as income protection, trauma insurance, or key person insurance.
  • Check your superannuation fund – although self-employed people are not required by law to contribute to a superannuation fund, many people have retirement savings. Check if you have any insurance policies linked to the fund, such as disability benefits. Even if you have not contributed regularly to the fund, you may be able to claim on insurance policies.
  • Contact Centrelink – you may be eligible for benefits or pensions. There are different types of income support payments for people in financial hardship, including benefits for farmers. Call 13 27 17 or visit their website.

You can download or request the Cancer Council “Cancer, Work & You” booklet by phoning our 13 11 20 Cancer Information and Support Line.

Getting to your cancer treatment centre and finding suitable parking can become a significant stress for patients and carers. Some transport assistance may be available through your treatment centre or hospital or for further information about services you can access in your area, call our 13 11 20  Cancer Information and Support Line.

My Aged Care offers help if you are older and too frail to maintain your independence at home. To find out whether you are eligible and for more information, you can call 1800 200 422 or browse the My Aged Care website.

Eligibility is based on your needs, and you will require an assessment.

Through the Commonwealth Home Support Program or the Home Care Packages, you may be able access services such as:

  • Assistance with everyday household tasks
  • Preparation or delivery of meals
  • Minor structural changes to your home
  • Assistance to support your independence in your personal care activities such as showering and dressing, shopping, banking and maintaining social contacts
  • Allied health professionals may assist to enhance nutrition, function, strength, and safety
  • Transport to help you attend doctor’s appointments and treatments

Cancer Council WA Practical Assistance Program

For patients and families who are not eligible for support from government funded services, Cancer Council WA may be able to offer some limited assistance through the Practical Support Program. This program provides short term assistance for patients undergoing treatment or management of cancer, or who have completed their cancer treatment in the last six months. Funded by public donations, Cancer Council WA Practical Support Program can assist in the areas of:

  • Light domestic cleaning
  • Light gardening
  • Childcare services

To find out if you are eligible, speak to one of our cancer nurses by calling our 13 11 20  Cancer Information and Support Line.