An estimated 134,000 Australians will be diagnosed with cancer in 2018, news that will ricochet through the lives and plans of their friends and family alike.
Sadly, these statistics are only set to get worse over time. A new report released by The Cancer Council for World Cancer Day earlier this week tips that by 2040, 1.9 million Australians will be living with a personal history of cancer.
Obviously, a lot of the day-to-day worries that occupy our minds take a back seat with a cancer diagnosis. This is where financial advisers can play an important role – and AMP advisers have been doing just this for years.
Since its inception in 2010, the AMP Cancer Council Pro Bono Program, run by the Cancer Council and funded by The AMP Foundation, has seen AMP advisers assist more than 5,000 people – patients and their families – with advice on how to manage their finances.
One adviser who knows the impact cancer can have on a person’s life better than most is Genine Cowell, pictured above with AMP Financial Planning MD Michael Paff and AMP CEO Craig Meller. Genine always knew she was making a positive impact by giving free financial advice to people with cancer, but it was only after her own brush with the disease, that she came to fully appreciate how much it meant to people.
“It’s not just the cancer treatment, it’s all aspects of their lives, particularly their financial situation."
“When someone is diagnosed with cancer, they often talk about their life being put ‘on hold’. I now understand what that really means,” says Genine.
Genine was recently awarded the annual AMPFP Pro Bono Award for her commitment to helping more than 50 cancer patients over the years, through her practice Kismet Financial Services in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
“It’s not just the cancer treatment, it’s all aspects of their lives, particularly their financial situation,” she says.
“I found that if we can take some of that burden off their shoulders so they can focus on fighting the disease, they are so appreciative.”
AMP Head of Sustainability and the AMP Foundation Helen Liondos said that given advisers like Genine are usually closely involved with their local communities, they were well placed to deliver this much-needed pro bono support.
“Advisers who volunteer with the AMP Cancer Council Pro Bono Program can help lighten the load during a very difficult time and can make a big difference to a family’s finances and peace of mind,” she says.
“And from the feedback we receive, it’s clear that our advisers like being able to give back to their communities in such a meaningful way.”
There’s many ways which advisers can support cancer sufferers and their families. These include advice on a range of financial issues, assisting patients access Centrelink payments, renegotiating or suspending loan repayments, and even making new payment arrangements for utilities bills and council rates.
Providing such valuable support during traumatic times mean that often the relationships advisers form with clients during pro bono work last much longer than the initial advice.
Genine still assists one client whose husband died from cancer and who also suffered post-traumatic stress disorder following the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.
“He said, ‘can you make sure you look after her for me’… so a number of us work together to help her.”
Call the Cancer Council on 13 11 20 for further information.