Lightening the financial burden for people affected by cancer

10 April 2018 | Angeline Sharp

Angeline Sharp

Angeline Sharp

I’m a new member of the Cancer Council NSW team. I joined this February as the new Financial Counsellor in the Central Coast region, as part of our Financial Counselling Program. This new, face-to-face service has been funded by the Greater Charitable Foundation.

I’m not new to finance, though! I have spent my last four years as a Financial Counsellor – similar to what I’m doing for Cancer Council NSW – and I’ve always worked in finance across banking, accounting and insurance. I really enjoy it.

A Financial Counselling Service created for people affected by cancer

Working for Cancer Council NSW has made my work more specialised, as I’m now delivering support exclusively designed for people affected by cancer. I believe that a person who is affected by cancer should be focusing on their health and families – spending time worrying about money impacts negatively on that. In my role, we can support a person, whether it be someone who has cancer, or their carer, and assist them with focus, direction and empathy.

Having the Financial Counselling Service available as a face-to-face service in the Central Coast is a huge benefit to the region. As well as offering my own service, I have a vast network of other specialists I can refer clients to – things like a pro-bono team to assist with wills and legal matters. I really believe that we Financial Counsellors make a positive difference in people’s lives, which is a wonderful feeling to have!

How we can help?

The most important thing we do with our clients is work out their incoming and outgoing costs – then we budget! Most people are surprised by how much they spend: that cup of coffee every morning and takeaway lunch all add up to substantial dollars over time. A budget is a great place to start.

More specifically, when working with people who are affected by cancer we can look at the type of debts they may have and why they have them – if an electricity bill is higher than normal for someone who is unwell there are options to approach the energy supplier to assist with lowering the costs. With creditors, we can explain a person’s situation and work out solutions, such as a structured payment plan.

Making a real difference

Most people who come to see me have been living completely unaware that our service existed. In some cases, they have struggled along by themselves for such a long time and, by the time we make contact, may be feeling desperate and so in debt that they can’t afford a coffee with friends. This can lead to social isolation because they are embarrassed by their financial state.  When I’ve helped someone with their finances and they take the time to send a nice email or a card or come in to say “Thank you for helping me”, that really brings me to tears. Happy tears, I might add!

I’m really delighted to be working as the new Financial Counsellor for Cancer Council NSW and looking forward to supporting many more people who need our help.

Thank you to the Greater Charitable Foundation for generously funding this Financial Counsellor role.


Learn more about how you can access Cancer Council’s Financial Counselling Service.