There is a lovely array of free and discounted things when going through breast cancer. Some are purely practical and others simply help you feel better about going through the experience.
1. The Government’s Bra and Prosthesis Subsidy
The Breast Prosthesis Service Payment is payment to people who have undergone a partial or full mastectomy, either unilateral or bilateral, and/or have undergone a lumpectomy, have congenital needs, or have had failed reconstructive surgery, as specified by a specialist or general practitioner. The service payment is available to cover the cost of the following items only:
- breast prosthesis or breast forms (these may include standard breast forms, swim form, foam filler, shell prosthesis and lumpectomy shells)
- special bras to hold the breast prosthesis or breast forms
- surgical bras and normal bras
- modifications to bras to hold a prosthesis or breast form
- prosthetic nipples.
The entitlement is $613.33 (GST incl) per side for a four-year period. You may claim any amount up to the total amount of $613.33 (or $1226.66 for bilateral) at any time during the four-year entitlement period.
Please talk to your Breast Surgeon, Breast Nurse, the Ministry of Health or your local specialist bra and prosthesis fitter for more information. See the following resources from MoH, Breast Cancer Support and Breast Cancer.Org for more information:
2. The Government’s Subsidy for Wigs and Hairpieces
This Wigs and Hairpiecess Subsidy is a payment to people who suffer from serious hair loss because of a medical condition or from certain cancer therapies. The payments are to reduce the cost of purchasing and maintaining a Wig or Hairpiece or other related products. The service payment is available to cover the cost of the following items only:
- Wig or Hairpiece
- headwear (hats, turbans etc).
If you are an adult (18 years or over), the amount you are entitled to depends on whether your hair loss is permanent or temporary. If you are under 18, your entitlement is the same whether the hair loss is temporary or permanent.
For adults (with temporary hair loss), the entitlement is $408.88 (GST incl) over a one-year period. You can claim all of or part of your $408.88 entitlement at any time over the one-year period.
3. Look Good Feel Better (LGFB)
Look Good Feel Better is a free service offered to women undergoing treatment for cancer. LGFB helps restore and enhance the appearance of cancer patients during and after treatment. During a two and a half hour workshop, attendees are shown by trained cosmetic volunteers how to cope with the physical side effects of their treatment, such as dry flaking skin and pigmentation changes.
They are taken through a step by step skincare and make-up regime, and given guidance on how to apply cosmetics to help camouflage loss of eyebrows, eyelashes and skin colour fluctuations. For more details, please contact LGFB or the Cancer Society.
4. Casting for Recovery Retreat (CFR)
Casting for Recovery provides retreats at no cost to participants, which allow people whose lives have been profoundly affected by breast cancer to gather in a beautiful, natural setting and learn to fly fish.
It offers participants an opportunity to experience the peace and solitude and the chance to be in the moment that fly fishing provides. The retreat also incorporates a range of other services to promote well-being. The 2.5 day retreat weekend is one of fun and support with the mission of our trained volunteers being that of empowerment and achievement to whatever level you are capable of. Contact Sherrie, the Director at Casting for Recovery.
5. Book: Life Happiness…& Cancer by Phil Kerslake
Phil Kerslake wrote Life, Happiness…& Cancer in 2005 after recovering from his sixth cancer battles. This book shows the reader how to use action and attitude to support their recoveries illustrating:
- How to cope much better with a cancer battles
- What being ‘a fighter’ really means
- What being an ‘active patient’ involves in practice
- How to turn faith and hope into verbs and wishes into actions
- How to run a life path audit that will feed your will to live
- How to live in accordance with your own way of ‘being, relating and creating’ to support recovery prospects and to improve your quality of life
- To create a life with more balance, meaning and fulfilment.
Phil Kerslake’s Book-For-Patients Programme aims to make free copies of his book available to patients at locations where they are receiving their diagnoses, treatments, or support. The Programme has already resulted in around 6,000 copies being donated for the benefit of patients in Wellington, Auckland and Central Otago. In Wellington, the book is available for those going through cancer treatment from the Blood and Cancer Centre, Wellington Hospital. Please also see Phil’s website.
6. Silky pillows
Silky pillows are crescent shaped, satin covered pillows available free for women who have had breast surgery to protect the underarm area. They are so soft and soothing when healing. Available from the Cancer Society and through the surgical wards.
7. Funky purses for drains
There are little cute material purses made to fit drains post-surgery. So if you have a drain (or even four as I did), you can hide the drains in the purses and go for a walk. These are available through the Surgical Ward or through the Cancer Society.
8. Sweet Louise : Positive Lives with Breast Cancer
Sweet Louise supports women with secondary breast cancer. They provide information, practical help and therapies to assist in living a positive life with breast cancer. For help and more information, please contact http://www.sweetlouise.co.nz/ or call their free phone 0800 112277.
9. BCAC Step by Step Support Pack
BCAC’s Step by Step support pack is free to anyone diagnosed with breast cancer in New Zealand
A diagnosis of breast cancer is a life-changing moment for over 2700 New Zealand women every year. If you are one of these women – BCAC and the Step By Step support pack are here to help. The information contained in each pack will help women understand their diagnosis, empower them to ask questions of their medical team and so make informed choices about their treatment options.
Each Step by Step pack contains:
- An information booklet about breast cancer, treatments, support organisations and other useful resources.
- A diary to organise medical and treatment information, record appointment times and note down any questions women may wish to ask their medical teams.
- A journal for recording personal thoughts, with inspirational messages from other women who have experienced breast cancer.
To order your free Step by Step support pack, please complete the form on BCAC’s website.
10. Transport to Hospital Appointments
The Red Cross also run community health transport shuttles. In Kapiti, the phone number is (04) 298 4316 (donation/koha appreciated).
11. Support for Carers and Partners
The Cancer Society provides a range of support services and programmes for carers and partners as well as cancer survivors. The Cancer Society also provides free individual counselling and support groups for carers and partners.
The Cancer Society’s Support Services
The Cancer Society has many roles and one of them is to provide a range of support services for people with cancer and their family/caregivers.
The Cancer Society offers a number of excellent, free support services which give you:
- Cancer Information
- Support from cancer specialists
- Peer support and networking with others affected by cancer
- Practical support during treatment and
- Post-treatment support services
1. Cancer Information
The Cancer Society has New Zealand’s largest sources of information about cancer and its effects. They have a range of cancer resources including:
- Booklets and information sheets on cancer types, treatments, living with cancer etc.
- A library with the latest cancer related books, magazines, tapes, videos, DVDs and CDs.
- A Cancer Information Directory and recommendations to credible internet sites.
- A quarterly Cancer Society magazine (CanTalk) with articles on recent research and support services.
- An online forum (called CancerChat NZ) and Facebook page.
- Specialist advice from cancer nurses on-site.
- Workshops and courses on cancer and wellbeing e.g. A course on practical ways of living well, building self-knowledge, self-confidence and self-help skills for anyone affected by cancer or survivorship (the Living well education programme).
Information and resources are available:
- In person. Visit your local Cancer Society office, talk to a cancer nurse or participate in a workshop.
- Phone the Cancer Information Helpline 0800 CANCER (226 237) and/or talk to a nurse.
- On the website. Download resources on the Cancer Society website http://www.cancernz.org.nz/, visit the online forum Cancer Chat NZ or check out their Facebook page.
- Email the Cancer Society at email@example.com or a specialist nurse on firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Support from Cancer Specialists
It is really helpful to talk to people specialised in working with those affected by cancer and really understand your situation. The Cancer Society provides the following cancer specialists for you to talk to:
- Cancer Nurses. The Cancer Society provide a telephone support help line on 0800 CANCER (226 237) staffed by experienced cancer nurses. Or visit in person or email a nurse on email@example.com
- Counselling. The Cancer Society provides cancer specialised counsellors, psychologists and therapists at no cost. Phone the Cancer Society for an appointment.
3. Peer Support and Networking with Others Affected by Cancer
It can be great to talk someone going through a similar cancer experience to you. The Cancer Society provides a number of ways to do this e.g. support groups, courses, workshops, by phone and an online forum:
a) Support groups (called Can Support) provide the opportunity to discuss (in small groups) experiences and concerns with others who have cancer. All groups are facilitated, meet monthly and invite guest speakers at times.
b) Courses, programmes and workshops. The Cancer Society provides a number of courses and workshops for those affected by cancer. These are great for education and also allow you to meet others experiencing the cancer journey.
c) Telephone support. The Cancer Society has a peer networking service (called Cancer Connect NZ) where you are linked to a person who has had a similar cancer type to you and can assist you in your cancer journey. If you or someone you care for has been diagnosed with cancer, and you’d like to talk to someone who has been through a similar experience, contact the Cancer Society 0800 CANCER (226 237).
d) An online forum. The Cancer Society has an online support forum (called CancerChatNZ) where you can talk to people with similar experiences, ask questions, and share information anonymously. CancerChatNZ offers a safe and supportive on-line forum connecting people through their experience of cancer. If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with cancer, please visit the forum. All posted messages are viewed by Cancer Society moderators.
Please contact your nearest Cancer Society for information, check the website or read the latest edition of CanTalk.
4. Practical Support During Treatment
The Cancer Society provides some fantastic practical support services for those affected by cancer. These include:
- Transport to hospital appointments with volunteer drivers
- Free car parking while at hospital appointments
- A place to wait and unwind between appointments in the Cancer Society rooms
- Accommodation during treatment
- Financial assistance (short term)
- Advocacy and help with work, budget, travel and family issues
- Coping with cancer side effects: Help with makeup, hats and wigs through Look Good Feel Better
- Massage (fees on a sliding scale)
- Lymphedema assessment and management clinic ($15 per session)
- Silky pillows to help make you comfortable after breast and underarm surgery and
- Hospital orientation/familiarisation tours
The Cancer Society also offers excellent educational and support programmes depending on where you are in New Zealand. These include:
- A course on practical ways of living well, building self-knowledge, self-confidence and self-help skills for anyone affected by cancer or survivorship. This course is called the Living Well education programme and includes information on cancer, nutrition, relaxation, stress and communication.
- Art therapy and writing
- Workshops on nutrition, medications, complimentary therapies etc.
- Dealing with fatigue, stress management, sleep and relaxation courses
- Exercise programmes such as:
- The Lebed Method (a programme called Healthy Steps)
- Tai Chi Qi Qong
- Nordic walking
5. Post-treatment Support Services
The Cancer Society provides a range of support services for those who have completed cancer treatment (cancer rehabilitation):
- The CanNow – Moving Forward programme is an end of treatment programme to promote improved wellbeing. The programme offers one on one cancer specialist advice provided by a cancer specialist nurse following treatment for early breast cancer. You are able to discuss your concerns and regain direction and energy for life after cancer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the Cancer Society.
- Counselling is also available from the Cancer Society.
Additional client services are available in some divisions and centres. Please call or email. To find out more about any of the services available in your area, contact your local Cancer Society or call the Cancer Information Helpline 0800 CANCER.
Free resources from the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation
|The NZBCF provides education and awareness about the importance of early detection with a goal to reduce the number of women dying of breast cancer. The Foundation has produced a range of targeted materials from an e-learning guide, to booklets, factsheets and DVD’s for broad community use. These materials are available free of charge, however the Foundation welcomes donations to help offset the cost of producing these materials.Breast Awareness “Pink” Book
An easy to read informative booklet covering everything from breast cancer symptoms and risk factors, to how you can help if someone you know is diagnosed with breast cancer. This guide is for anyone who wants to learn the facts about breast cancer and breast health – it could save your life!
Request your copy of the Breast Book.For Health Professionals: Women to Women DVD – Our ups and downs
Wahine ki te Wahine – Nga Piki Nga Heke
Maori women are at greater risk of dying from breast cancer than non- Maori. This DVD shares the stories of three Maori women. Produced with the support of Tainui Mapo and Maori health promoters in the Manukau Counties area, this DVD offers hope and encouragement to Maori women worried about breast screening and cancer.If you’re a Health Professional: Request your copy of the Women to Women DVD
For Health Professionals: Faith, Hope and Love – DVD for Pacific Island women
Pacific Island women share their experiences of breast cancer in this DVD directed by the award-winning Sima Urale. The DVD focuses on breast health and breast screening and is an ideal resource for Health and Community workers.If you’re a Health Professional: Request your copy of the Pacific Island women DVD
‘Breast Cancer In New Zealand’ Fact Sheet
“Breast Cancer in women under age 40″
‘Priorities In Breast Awareness’ Fact Sheet
‘Risk and Risk Reduction Factors for Breast Cancer’ Fact Sheet
‘Mammograms – The Facts’ Fact Sheet
‘Healthy Lifestyle Choices’ Fact Sheet
‘Male Breast Cancer in New Zealand’ Fact Sheet