by CanTeen07/12/2018

Money Matters: When You Have Cancer

Many individuals and families affected by cancer suffer financial stress. Often when someone in the family is diagnosed with cancer it means there will be extra, unexpected costs, and reduced income. This can be another stress when you are trying to deal with cancer, but there are all sorts of advice and help available.  

Costs of cancer 

Cancer tests, scans and treatment (particularly hospital stays) can be more costly than expected. Other out-of-pocket costs include travel and accommodation if you (and a carer) have to travel for treatment, car parking and medicines or medical equipment.  

People with cancer and their carers often have to reduce work hours or stop working, reducing the household income.  

Depending on your individual circumstances, you may need to adjust your budget to deal with reduced income and extra costs, and you could find that your financial plans and goals have changed. You may be facing financial difficulties for the first time and need advice about what to do if you can’t pay your bills or meet repayments. 

Get financial help 

If you have to stop work because of your treatment you may be eligible for assistance from the government or other organisations. Your partner or child may also be able to get assistance if they have to stop work to care for you. 

For more information see Dealing with Centrelink. 

There’s no shame in applying for assistance – it is there for all people in your situation no matter what your financial situation was like before you got cancer.

You can also get help with things like: 

  • rent assistance 
  • pharmaceutical allowance 
  • concession cards 
  • parking vouchers at the hospital 
  • accommodation during treatment for you (if you are being treated as an outpatient) or your partner 
  • transport costs to and from the hospital 
  • no interest loans for medical appliances or other essential items 
  • accessing superannuation early or making a claim on insurance. 

You can get more information from the social worker at your hospital or call CanTeen (1800 835 932) or Cancer Council (13 11 20) to find out what financial assistance might be available to you or get a referral to a financial advisor or counsellor who can help you manage your finances.  

More advice/support 

Cancer support services are available in local communities (through charities, religious organisations, government organisations). Speaking to your social worker or with your treatment team might help you connect with these services.   

Cancer Council’s Pro Bono Program helps people affected by cancer with financial, legal or workplace advice, including early access to superannuation, credit and debt issues, mortgage hardship variations, budgeting, insurance claims and disputes and transitioning to retirement. Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 to find out if this program is available in your area and if you’re eligible. 

Useful sites/resources 

Redkite offers financial, emotional and educational support for children and young people with cancer and their families. Call Redkite 1800 733 548 or visit their website www.redkite.org.au 

Get a copy of Cancer Council’s booklet Cancer and Your Finances. Download or order it from your local Cancer Council website or call 13 11 20.