The Chinese Cancer Society came into being as one of the Cancer Council Victoria’s support groups. It was founded by a social worker, Dorothy Yiu OAM (current President), in response to a request from the Cancer Council to address an urgent need for culturally and linguistically appropriate services for Chinese people who have been touched by cancer. Over the years, more cancer survivors and volunteers joined the Society to offer support to others. CCSV has evolved from a small support group that conducted monthly peer meetings to an extensive information and support service for people affected by cancer.

A lack of understanding in mainstream hospitals and health services as well as cultural differences in perceiving cancer can sometimes create barriers for Chinese patients who need to avail of mainstream services. CCSV has come across cases where Chinese speaking cancer sufferers shy away from seeking help due to language difficulties. Moreover, socio-cultural practices such as the need to “save face” in order to avoid being labelled as “people with problems”, or the stigma of being “a burden to others” have kept people away from seeking help. There are also instances of misconceptions about “being punished” for ones’ deeds – which create complex problems in the patient’s mind. Taking into account these cultural and language issues, pressures associated with cancer can really become insurmountable.

Keeping these issues in mind, the Society tries to provide information and support where cancer sufferers and their carers can access services in a user-friendly environment, support each other in an atmosphere where they can talk in their own language and share their experiences openly.

Today, the Society remains a Cancer Council Victoria Accredited Support Group and is run primarily by volunteers who come from all walks of life, including health professionals and also cancer survivors/carers with different professional backgrounds. CCSV has successfully established a much needed support network to enhance the well-being of Chinese people in Victoria, whose lives are impacted by cancer.

The Society was awarded “Volunteer Group of the year 2011” by the Cancer Council Victoria and was also recipient of a meritorious award by the Victorian Multicultural Commission in 2006.

In 2014, Dorothy Yiu, the founder of CCSV, received Cancer Council Victoria’s President’s Award in recognition of her hard work.