Supportive care is the information, resources and services you might need following a cancer diagnosis. It is different for everyone, as it depends on what you specifically need to help you through your cancer journey.
Supportive care includes all forms of care that address your:
- physical needs – getting help with problems like pain, fatigue, treatment side effects, appearance, sexual concerns and sleep issues
- information needs – about the cancer diagnosis, treatments and what is likely to happen next
- practical needs – including things like transportation, meals, childcare, and financial and work issues
- emotional and psychological needs – such as counselling, connection with peer support groups, and support for family members
- spiritual needs – making connections to strengthen faith and hope
- Supportive care is an important complementary part of conventional medical cancer treatment.
Your needs will change
Your supportive care needs are likely to change over time. You can ask for help at any time, and your cancer treatment team may ask you to fill out a questionnaire assessing your needs several times over the course of your treatment.
Supportive care team
A wide variety of clinicians and community organisations provide supportive care services. This might include:
- specialist cancer nurses
- social workers
- dietitians and speech therapists
- psychologists and counsellors
- physiotherapists and exercise physiologists
- occupational therapists
- lymphoedema practitioners
- music and art therapists
- pastoral care workers
- financial navigators
- community-based organisations that provide practical support
Accessing supportive care
Your cancer treatment team will help you access services you need. There are also websites and hotline services that can help connect you with supportive care services.
WeCan is a website that provides easy access to Australian supportive care resources, services and information. You can use their supportive care needs screening tool to help you work out what you may need help with.
The Cancer Council support line is a free, confidential service for anyone affected by cancer. Call 13 11 20 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
The cancer Australia website, Our Mob and Cancer has links to support for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.