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How can psychologists help?



  • iserbrown
    iserbrown Member Posts: 5,375

    As mentioned already 
    our diagnosis has the same title Breast Cancer but that's it. All individual tailored treatments. 
    I haven't had a need for a Psychologist.
    When I was diagnosed it was through a recall with Breastscreen Victoria. It was a busy recall, lots of women, and the minute we arrived we were put with a Counsellor.
    My breast surgeon that I met through Breastscreen had two Breastcare Nurses to look after me.
    After being on the forum for some time I have come to realise that my diagnosis path was clearer than some. 
    Best wishes with your research

  • Annie C
    Annie C Member Posts: 836
    I am very remote. I live 2,300kms from my closest treatment centre. 

    There are no psychologists/psychiatrists even remotely physically close to me. The best I was offered was 5 telephone consult sessions organised by my GP. If women in the cities have difficulty in accessing mental health services what hope have remote women? 

    From the end of June 2017 to the beginning of October 2017 I had 4 return flights from the closest airport to me to my treating centre. 

    My travel day begins at around 7:30am with a 3 hour road trip to the airport over bush roads, dodging cattle and crossing creeks and floodways,  then a 3 hour flight to the city followed by an hour (ish) taxi trip to the accomodation centre. I leave home around 7:30 am and arrive at the accommodation venue at around 5pm. I am shattered ohysically and emotionally.

    The 4 weeks I spent away from home were very difficult. I was homesick, not to mention everything with the city was unfamiliar. And I have no family in the city.

    Just being away from home, away from all that is familiar,  along with the cancer diagnosis just about did my head in.

    Accessing mental health services is difficult and limited. Telephone counselling does not cut it. Good in theory but not in practice. Reasons. Limited band width for internet. To access mobile phone services, I need to sit on my front verandah on the right hand side to obtain a signal. Don't even bother during rain, thunderstorm or cyclone time.

    Add to the distance factor is the fact that clinic staff rarely know exactly where I live and services available. Everyone rabbits on about Allied Health. What is Allied Health? The term does not exist let alone the service where I live.

    The cost of accessing services in the city is tremendous and leads to financial stress. 

    Add to the fact that Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS) in my state is cutting back on services. I had to go alone. And still do for followup monitoring. The cost of an airfare for my husband (nearly $1000 return) is not possible on an age pension.

    All the above adds to stress levels. You may well ask why have I not relocated to the city (as has been suggested by the medical fraternity)?

    This is my home. 

  • kmakm
    kmakm Member Posts: 7,974
    Hi @SarahS. Thank you for asking.

    I knew I'd need counselling the moment I was diagnosed (click on my @name to read my story). I asked my breast surgeon. He basically shrugged. Not a big believer in talk therapy, he didn't have anyone he could recommend. My breastcare nurse put me in touch with someone I could access in that week. When I met my oncologist she didn't offer counselling advice eithet; I had to ask. She suggested a psychologist she worked with, but that was going to be very expensive. So she then steered me towards a community based psychologist. That woman helped me through some very dark times during treatment. My mental health post-treatment has not been great, so I'm now seeing a clinical psychologist who is helping. My GP knew of her and thought she'd be a good fit for me.

    I was diagnosed in December. I just managed to see the first counsellor in the last week before she went away for a month. I had to wait until February to get an appointment with the next one. This was extremely difficult. I was in a great deal of emotional depress. Access to psychologists is highly problematic.

    Given that 50% of people diagnosed with breast cancer will develop depression, I cannot understand why a pathway to counselling is not offered and organised from the diagnosis. It should be standard.

    Seeking help for mental health is very difficult for many. It should be made as easy as possible for an at risk community. K
  • Patti J
    Patti J Member, Dragonfly Posts: 589
    It is also noteworthy that Lindsay the oncology nurse says that "treatment won't last forever". For some of us treatment does last forever.
  • Romla
    Romla Member Posts: 2,092
    True@PattiJ  I guess that’s what Liz Riordan’s blog shows.
  • Artferret
    Artferret Member Posts: 259
    I have never liked the terms 'survivor' or 'journey'. 

  • Patti J
    Patti J Member, Dragonfly Posts: 589
    Not to detract from Liz Riordan's blog but she has had a local recurrence. I can't  relate to that.
  • iserbrown
    iserbrown Member Posts: 5,375
    @Patti J
    I am not sure but your comment ongoing suggests Mets. Is that correct? Perhaps a sentence or two to differentiate between recurrence and mets so that Sarah has a broader understanding
    Take care and best wishes always x
  • Kattykit
    Kattykit Member Posts: 252
    I've never had any sort of therapy,  not the first time and even now that I have mets and will be on treatment until I die I have never once been offered counselling as part of my treatment.
  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,007
    That is  disgraceful, @Kattykit   Hopefully this will change.  

    Perhaps it is an area that BCNA can advocate more as well - to get the counselling issue on the table?  Hopefully @SarahS participation will also enable her to raise the issue with her peers & tutors.

      @BCNA   @Riki_BCNA

  • kmakm
    kmakm Member Posts: 7,974
    Absolutely disgraceful @Kattykit. Appalling. Big hug, K xox
  • Brenda5
    Brenda5 Member Posts: 2,423
    edited March 2019
    I would love to access a phychologist but none up here seem to bulk bill. There is one in the cancer care building when I had chemo but my gp seems to think she's only there for chemo patients. Would have been nice to have been offered one when I was on chemo.
    Mostly I just deal with it by avoidance. It might be a muddled life but at least its life.
    I think an online skype or even online video call in Face book would be a wonderful service. I am not sure how the billing of that would work but hey, if you can figure it out, I'd be there.
  • Blossom1961
    Blossom1961 Member Posts: 2,216
    @Brenda5 I had my GP draw me up a mental health plan. I then got to choose my own psych and it only cost me $40. I had previously tried the oncology psych through the hospital and she was useless. Her main questions were “why are you tired” and “were you sexually abused as a child” The private psych I chose was brilliant.
  • Brenda5
    Brenda5 Member Posts: 2,423
    Discussing sexually abused as a child would be rather nice. I have never had any counselling for that. Discussing it with hubby in a limited extent was beneficial though. A problem shared is a problem halved. <3
  • Blossom1961
    Blossom1961 Member Posts: 2,216
    @Brenda5 Get a mental health plan drawn up at your GP. You Automatically qualify as a BC recipient (or whatever terminology works for you, I never get it right). I was entitled to up to ten sessions. I have only used one. As I said, my psych was a  brilliant match for me.