Undergoing medical treatment for breast cancer brings with it a range of stresses and the last thing you need to be worrying about is how you are going to pay your bills. 

Treatment may put you under financial strain, either because you choose to pay for some treatment options or because you are not working during treatment. If you meet the criteria, you can access financial help through Work and Income New Zealand.

Talking to your employer

It can be unsettling telling your employer that you have breast cancer and that you will need time off for treatment. You may wonder how your employer will react, what it will mean for your future job security, and how you will feel about returning to work when the time comes.

Most employers are understanding and will give you leave without pay for treatment, if you do not have enough sick leave available. You might like to check out this American publication on living and working with cancer. It is for an American market, but contains some useful tips on working through cancer. The US website, Cancer and Careers, is also a valuable resource.

If you are self-employed it may be more difficult for you take time out for treatment. If you are able, get others to cover for you as much as possible. It’s important not to stress about work issues at this time. You need to focus on your health and wellbeing so that you can get better as quickly as possible. 

Work and Income New Zealand provide some short-term financial assistance through the Sickness Benefit and long-term assistance through the Supported Living payment. You may qualify depending on your circumstances. Check out the criteria for health and disability allowances. You can also call Work and Income New Zealand on 0800 559 009 for details.

The Cancer Society of New Zealand also provides grants to assist individuals and families facing financial hardship as a result of cancer treatment. The grants cover things such as transport costs, household expenses, special equipment, counselling services etc. Contact your local branch of the Cancer Society for details or call the helpline 0800 CANCER (226 237).

There is also financial support available for those needing breast prostheses and wigs or hairpieces. Click here for more details.

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