Written by Isabella Pilbeam, edited for online by Brent Gray.
An alarming number of cancer patients aren’t receiving a balanced treatment that encompasses both emotional and physical support but that all could change with new funding.
New South Wales Cancer Council has dedicated $4.5 million to a series of cancer treatment programs that focus on providing emotional and mental support to those undergoing treatment for the disease.
The move comes in light of a study conducted by the University of Newcastle, which found more than 50% of the cancer patients involved weren’t being offered any emotional support during treatment.
The study was led by Laureate professor Rob Sanson-Fisher, who said in order to improve the overall quality of life of those impacted by the disease, the current care system must be modified to include support and information beyond the physical treatment of cancer.
His team received $2.2 million of the total funding which will go towards developing an improved patient-care program, hopefully to be implemented in hospitals across the State.
This will be achieved he said, through consultations with cancer patients to better understand their needs and providing suggestions and information to hospitals, oncology and radiation service providers.
Director of Cancer Programs for the New South Wales Cancer Counsel Kathy Chapman said cancer sufferers often experience concerns regarding a multitude of different areas.
“So we know that cancer patients often don’t get enough help with things like information on financial assistance they might also be lacking energy and feel tired and the experience of the disease getting worse, so cancer patients really need to have care that address all aspects of their concerns not just the physical concerns.”
Katie Clift from the Cancer Council Queensland praised the New South Wales decision.
“It’s wonderful to hear more money is being invested into ensuring better quality of life and the emotional and psychological issues of cancer patients are being taken care of.”
Like Mrs Chapman and Professor Sans-Fisher, Ms Clift stressed the importance of tending to the emotional and mental well-being of those diagnosed with cancer and the long-term implications of holistic style support.
“It’s absolutely critical that we focus more on the mental and emotional effects of a cancer diagnosis, a lot of the time the focus is on treatment and on the physical side of things being taken care of.
“People don’t realise there are these emotional side affects not only while they’re going through treatment it could also be linked to their quality of life as a cancer survivor,” said Katie.
She also said lack of emotional support isn’t a problem isolated to New South Wales.
“What our Queensland data has shown is about 80% of cancer survivors don’t receive the care or support that they need after treatment in terms of emotionally, 95% reported one or more emotional concerns after treatment and 82% didn’t seek help with coping for them.
“We think as a community we have to do more to empower cancer survivors and promote access to these services and support.”