You may feel cut off from your community, friendships and other supports.
Family and friends may have withdrawn and you feel as though you have lost:
- social contacts
- social activities.
A way to connect to other people who are in a similar situation to you is by joining a support group (see www.pcfa.org.au for support group locations).
‘Listening to the journey taken by other chaps was fairly helpful for me, and the relationship with the support group changes over time – you go in there as a seeker of information and then after a year or eighteen months you become the provider of information.’
Research suggests that people who join a support group feel:
- a sense of belonging
- a sense of community
- as though they are not alone
- accepted and supported
- as though they are being cared for
- safe to express their feelings and fears.
Your GP can help coordinate your care and provide you and your family with support and information to help you make informed choices about treatment. When treatment is over, your GP can help you and those close to you to manage your physical and emotional health needs throughout the cancer journey, including palliative care.
In getting the support you need, you may also like to see other health professionals as well as joining a support group. Under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), people who have a chronic medical condition (e.g. cancer) are able to access the following services: multidisciplinary care, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner, Aboriginal health worker, audiologist, chiropractor, diabetes educator, dietitian, exercise physiologist, mental health worker, occupational therapist, osteopath, physiotherapist, podiatrist, psychologist and speech pathologist. See www.health.gov.au for more information.
Specifically relating to mental health, also through the MBS, the Better Access initiative allows you to get Medicare rebates for selected mental health services offered by GPs, psychiatrists, psychologists, and eligible social workers and occupational therapists .See www.health.gov.au/mentalhealthbetteraccess for more information.
For further support
- Talk to family and friends.
- Homecare can assist with household jobs www.yourchoicehomecare.com.au/).
- Commonwealth Respite and Care link centres provide respite care www9.health.gov.au/ccsd/index.cfm).
- Cancer Councils have telephone support groups and Connect programs (where you can speak to someone who has been through a similar experience).
- Cancer Council 131120 is a telephone service that can help link you in to other services.
- Your Aboriginal health worker.
- Your local gay and lesbian health network www.lgbthealth.org.au/members).
- A health professional (e.g. doctor, social worker) or bilingual health worker who speaks your language.
Department of Human Services provides payments and services to help you if you have an illness, injury or a disability that means you cannot work, or can only do a limited amount of work.
Medicare covers some of the costs of procedures and tests used to diagnose prostate cancer, but there may be some ‘out-of-pocket’ costs. Your doctor can answer your questions about why you need certain procedures and tests and so you can prepare for any financial outlays.
Talk to a member of your healthcare team (e.g. social worker) about what financial and practical support services are available. Talk to your local Medicare office about the ‘Medicare Safety Net’ and the ‘Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Safety Net’ on costs of medications and medical bills.