If your work is affected, loss of income is likely to be a major financial stress – doubly so if a partner stops or reduces work to care for you.

You may have already confronted other expenses related to cancer, including medications and treatments, the out-of-pocket costs of some services and travel. The progress of your illness may now mean buying or hiring special equipment, paying for household services, modifying your home or running two households if you relocate for palliative care.

What may help

Travel assistance

A few organisations or schemes can help you with the cost of travelling to see health professionals, including palliative care specialists.

  • In NSW for example, the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS) helps people who live more than 100 kilometres from the nearest specialist. Other states have similar schemes. Your doctor or other health care providers should have more information. Also the Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 will have information about the support in your state.

Equipment assistance

Equipment needed for your care at home can be expensive. There are a number of programs in each state that may help with this cost. See the earlier section on 'Trouble getting around?'.

Financial assistance

Check with Centrelink whether you qualify for any benefits or pensions such as a sickness allowance, disability support pension, family allowance or a carer’s allowance. You may also be eligible for a health care card, which can reduce the cost of your medications or a pension travel card, which can reduce the cost of public transport. Call 13 27 17.

Q&A

Q: Given the progression of my cancer, can I use my superannuation now?

A: Under recent changes to Federal legislation, you may be allowed to draw on your superannuation if your illness is considered terminal. To be eligible, you must provide statements from two medical practitioners (at least one being a specialist) certifying that you have a life expectancy of 12 months or less. Contact your superannuation fund to discuss this with them.

For more information

  • The Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 can provide you with general information and perhaps put you in touch with some financial assistance services.
  • The Cancer Council has a Welfare Grants Program that, in cases of extreme hardship, can provide financial help to people with cancer. Contact the Cancer Council in your state.
  • Financial counselling is also available from some charity organisations, such as the Salvation Army or St Vincent de Paul Society.

Life, Hope & Reality was developed and written by Afaf Girgis, Claire Johnson, and Sylvie Lambert with funding from the NHMRC and Cancer Council NSW.

Last updated 30 August 2015