There are a number of sources of practical support available for women diagnosed with breast cancer.
State and territory governments in Australia have programs that provide equipment and appliances to help people live independently. Equipment such as wheelchairs, shower chairs and wigs for those women suffering hair loss from chemotherapy might be provided.
These programs usually provide the equipment on indefinite loan for as long as it’s needed, except for personal use items such as wigs, which are not required to be returned. Women need a letter from their doctor and needs are assessed by a health professional, such as an occupational therapist. The local hospital or community nurse can also provide information about other available schemes or sources of equipment. Some Cancer Councils also provide a wig service.
Meals on Wheels will deliver meals on weekdays to housebound people for a minimal charge. You can contact them directly, but you need a referral from your doctor, social worker or community nurse.
Home care services or domiciliary care services can provide practical help in the home. They can provide services such as respite, basic domestic help and personal care. Essential home and yard upkeep are sometimes available. Help is prioritised based on level of need and the cost of the service is adjusted according to individual circumstances.
Cancer Councils around the country provide a variety of practical services to help you during treatment. Call the Helpline on 13 11 20 to find out what is available in your area.
Working during treatment for breast cancer
Having breast cancer doesn't necessarily mean you'll have to give up work. But you may need quite a lot of time off, and you may not be able to carry on completely as before, during your treatment.
If you have cancer your employer is not allowed to discriminate against you because of your illness. They have a duty to make 'reasonable adjustments' to help you cope. Examples of these include:
- allowing you time off for treatment and medical appointments
- allowing flexibility with working hours, the tasks you must perform or your working environment
The definition of what is 'reasonable' depends on the situation. For example, it may need to be determined how much it would affect your employer's business.
It will help if you give your employer as much information as possible about how much time you will need off and when. Talk to your human resources department if you have one. Your union or staff association representative should also be able to give you advice.
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Last reviewed: July 2018