Getting help and support with my brother or sister's cancer

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It can be really hard to ask for support. You might not be able to find the right words, feel embarrassed or scared of getting upset. Talking things through can be a big relief. It can help to put things into perspective and sort things out in your head. It can also help you feel less alone. Your first step in getting support is being willing to give it a try. The second step is finding the right person.


Who can you get support from?

Sometimes it feels like there are people all around you, but no one really gets it, that there’s no one who can understand what you are going through. You may have to look beyond your family and friends. It may take a few shots at finding the right person, but it’s worth making the effort.

A lot of young people say the best support comes from others who have been in the same boat. Log in to the Canteen Community to connect with other young people dealing with a sibling’s cancer.

If you feel like you want to talk to someone outside your family and circle of friends, a counsellor is always a good option. You might be thinking, ‘Nope, that’s not for me!’. But counselling might not be what you think. Counsellors are trained people who are very good at listening to what you have to say and helping you to make sense of it.

Contact a Canteen counsellor for a confidential chat online, by phone, or you can meet face to face. Or ask a member of your brother’s or sister’s treatment team, your GP or social worker at the hospital for help finding the right counsellor.

Other support

Canteen provides a range of other support services to help you cope with a brother or sister’s cancer. You can:


Financial help

As well as the physical impact on your brother or sister, and the emotional burden on them and you, cancer often has a big financial impact on families.

On top of the treatment costs, there may be a big change in your family’s financial situation if one or both your parents can’t work. If you live in a rural or regional town the costs of travelling for treatment – including petrol, accommodation and eating out – can be very expensive.

There is all kinds of assistance available, it’s just a matter of knowing who and what to ask. In many families, mum, dad or another close, ‘older’ adult, like a grandparent or aunt will help with these matters, but, sometimes, the responsibility may fall on you.

There’s no shame in applying for assistance – it is there for all people in your situation no matter what your family’s financial situation was like before your brother or sister was diagnosed.

The Australian government (through Centrelink) and other organisations provide assistance for people who have to stop work because of their cancer, or to care for someone with cancer. It’s worth checking out what’s available to your family.

Your family may also be able to get help with things like:

  • Rent assistance

  • Pharmaceutical allowance

  • Concessions cards

  • Parking vouchers at the hospital

  • Accommodation during treatment

  • Transport costs to and from the hospital.

If financial things have become a challenge, it’s important to know that there are these kinds of support services and allowances from the government. It can be difficult to work out if your family qualifies, or how to fill out applications.

To get more information talk to the social worker at your brother’s or sister’s hospital.

If you'd like to talk to someone about support dealing with a brother or sister's cancer, call us on 1800 835 932.

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