Financial stress in cancer fight

Australia
‘worst in world’ for financial stress in cancer fight

Australians battling a common and deadly cancer of the immune system
suffer the highest level of financial stress in the world, according to new
global research.

This is the finding of a survey by the international Lymphoma
Coalition of more than 4,000 patients from 72 countries who are living with
lymphoma, a type of cancer where the white blood cells multiply out of control.
One-in-three Australians surveyed reported financial stress relating to their
cancer compared with a quarter of respondents globally.

Australia also scored significantly worse than the global average
for loss/reduction in employment (30% versus 22%), loss of self-esteem (30%
versus 25%), depression (41%

versus 33%) and
isolation (28% versus 22%).

The research found that stress related to finances was at its
greatest when Australians were undergoing treatment (91% experienced stress
during treatment versus 19% prior to treatment) highlighting the need for
practical measures that help reduce the financial burden during treatment.

Lymphoma Australia CEO Sharon Winton said that the findings are a
wake-up call to Australia to do more to help people living with and treating
lymphoma.

“Some people with lymphoma are in the right place at the right time
and are able to access new medicines through clinical trials but others have no
option but to find the funds to pay for new treatments. It simply isn’t good
enough.

“It is hard enough undergoing treatment for lymphoma without the
additional stress of paying for vital medicines while being unable to work due
to illness,” Ms Winton said.

“We’re calling on the Federal Government to do more to assist
Australians with lymphoma, whether that is fast-tracking the PBS listing of new
medicines or providing financial assistance to help Australians meet
out-of-pocket treatment costs,” she added.

For Australians like Sarah Austin who was diagnosed with Hodgkin
lymphoma in 2009 the cost of treatment has been “highly significant and
enormously stressful”.

Sarah raised more than $120,000 to pay for life-saving treatment,
but when her cancer came back she said it was “like facing one bombshell after
another”.

“My family and friends have been a fantastic source of support to
help me fundraise to meet my treatment costs – but the thought of having to do
this all over again is overwhelming.

“It’s a continual worry in the back of your mind about whether
you’ll be able to afford treatment,” Sarah said.

Ms Winton said that lymphoma is sometimes wrongly
described as a rare cancer, which could not be further from the truth. More
than 5,000 Australians are diagnosed with lymphoma each year – one every two
hours.

“More
Australians lose their lives to lymphoma than skin cancer. It’s time that the
Government did more to support Australians with lymphoma,” Ms Winton urged.

Despite
lymphoma – which includes more than 50 subtypes – being the fifth most common
cancer in adults and the third most common childhood cancer, there is still a
lack of knowledge about the signs and symptoms of lymphoma which leads to late
diagnosis and increases financial distress.

To
coincide with World Lymphoma Day (15 September), Lymphoma Australia is
launching a campaign called ‘No One Likes a Lump’ including a new
Community Service Announcement which can be viewed at bit.ly/2cFYJtp
The organisation is also challenging Australians to share the CSA and
tweet #NoOneLikesaLump on social media in order to draw attention to one of the
common symptoms of lymphoma.

The
campaign aims to help improve diagnosis by raising awareness of the symptoms of
lymphoma which include lumps in the armpits, neck or groin; itching (with or
without a rash); unexplained weight loss; exhaustion; a persistent cough;
sweating that is described as drenching; and fever and headache, which can be
confused with the flu.

Ms
Winton said that Lymphoma Australia is also funding the introduction of two
lymphoma care nurses in hospitals and hopes to eventually have at least one
dedicated lymphoma nurse for each State and Territory.

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