Melbourne, Australia, Aug, 2020 -- Distressed cancer patients and their families are flooding the Cancer Council of Victoria's information and support line as COVID-19 complicated their cancer journeys.
The number of callers experiencing high emotion, anxiety and stress related to COVID-19 quadrupled during August compared to the week before the pandemic.
They accounted for around a third of all callers to the support line.
New data released by Cancer Council Victoria to mark their annual Daffodil Day fundraising campaign revealed calls related to feelings of isolation, difficulty attending appointments due to border closures, anxiety about delays to upcoming surgery and concern for family members who weren't allowed visitors in hospital.
In July and August, there was an increase in calls related to suicidal thoughts.
Every year, more than 35,200 Victorians are diagnosed with cancer and more than 11,000 die from the disease.
One in three Victorians will develop cancer by the age of 75, and every day 96 Victorians hear the words 'you have cancer'.
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"We don't yet know the full impact of COVID on those affected by cancer, but we do know that more cancer patients and their loved ones are experiencing severe anxiety and distress in isolation," said Cancer Council Victoria head of cancer information and support services Katherine Lane.
"Now more than ever we need to ensure that the most vulnerable in our communities are given the support they need."
Thanks to research, the five-year cancer survival has increased 20 per cent since 1988 but the COVID-19 pandemic will impact research funding and make fundraising like Daffodil Day even more important.
"Amazing advancements have been made in cancer prevention, screening and treatment, meaning that more people than ever before are surviving a cancer diagnosis. However, we know that less funding will be available for research due to the current climate, so it's more important than ever that we continue funding the work of our researchers," said Cancer Council head of fundraising and communications Lisa Kastaniotis.
"We rely on the generosity of community donations to help us fund this work. By donating online today, Victorians can help fund vital cancer research that is saving lives every day."
The Cancer Council Victoria information and support helpline is on 13 11 20
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Tuesday, September 1, 2020
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