Youth Cancer Services (YCS) have been developed across Australia to ensure all young people with cancer can access the best, age-appropriate care and support – regardless of where they live.
The YCS are based in five major (lead) hospitals in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, but also work with hospitals and health services across Australia to deliver specialised care and support to all young people with cancer.
Depending on your cancer type and your situation, you might go to a lead hospital for treatment, or the YCS team can work with your local doctor/s to plan and provide the best treatment for you closer to where you live.
No matter where you have your treatment, you can access the resources and support of a YCS team.
If you have to travel to have your treatment in a hospital in a capital or major city, read on for tips from young people who’ve done it, making it as stress-free as possible, plus some info about help with travel costs.
Travelling for treatment
Having to travel long distances to stay in a hospital in a capital city or big town can be really stressful.
Being alone in an unfamiliar place is hard and you might feel lonely, frightened or uncomfortable. You may be away from the support and comfort of your family and friends and miss your home, community, lifestyle or even the food you usually eat.
Firstly, if you’re not having your treatment at a YCS lead hospital, contact your nearest YCS to find out about the hospital you're going to and what support services and groups are available there.
And if you’re from a rural town, ask the YCS if there is a rural cancer nurse in your area. They can offer advice and help to improve coordination between your rural and city-based doctors and health services. Also ask them about telephone or online support and groups for young people with cancer.
If you’re away a lot for treatment, you might also be able to continue with your regular schoolwork through distance education or keep going with your uni study externally or online. Your nearest YCS team can help with this, and Canteen’s keyworkers can also intervene on your behalf if you need support.
Tips from young people with cancer who live in regional/rural areas include:
Try to organise several appointments for one trip.
If you’re not feeling well make sure you take someone who can drive with you, and consider staying overnight if you have to drive yourself.
Let your driver/support crew (your parents, partner or friends) know that you may not be up for sightseeing or shopping after appointments and you may just want to head straight home.
Take pillows for the car.
Print out a map and directions to get to the cancer centre or take a charger if you’re relying on maps on your phone.
If you’re staying in hospital for a while, find ways to stay in touch with family and friends – phone calls, letters, emails, social media, WhatsApp etc.
Help with costs
The costs of travelling to have cancer treatment – including petrol or public transport, accommodation and eating out – can be very expensive. You or your parents may also have to take time off work or pay for childcare. These extra costs might make you feel even more stressed and worried.
Living in regional or rural areas shouldn’t have to impact your treatment decisions. There are programs and organisations in every state and territory that provide help with travel and accommodation costs for patients. Ask someone in your YCS team for more info.