Having cancer may mean you feel cut off from your community, friendships and other support. Family and friends may have withdrawn and you may feel as though you have lost social contacts, interests and social activities.
‘I found myself being involved with so many different doctors and so much information was being thrown at me from so many different quarters that in the end, some of the best advice I got and some of the most steadfast support I got was from support groups.’
One way to connect to other people who are in a similar situation to you is by joining a support group. Many 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.
There are support groups specifically for younger men with prostate cancer, please visit www.pcfa.org.au. In addition to face-to-face support groups, telephone and internet support are also available (for contact details, please see the ‘Organisations and services’ section further on)
Your GP can help coordinate your care and provide you and your partner with support and information to help you make informed choices about treatment. Your GP can also help you, and those close to you, manage your ongoing physical and emotional health needs throughout the cancer journey.
There are other forms of support available to you. 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, dietician, exercise physiologist, mental health worker, occupational therapist, osteopath, physiotherapist, podiatrist, psychologist, speech pathologist (click here for more details).
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 (click here for more details).
‘We needed some information with finance because obviously I had to quit work, a way of helping with how do I obtain assistance through Centrelink and that sort of thing.’
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 ‘Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Safety Net’ and the ‘Medicare Safety Net’ on costs of medications and medical bills.