Coping With Cancer During The Covid-19 Pandemic
A Guide To Living With Cancer During The Second Wave
The latest advice for those experiencing cancer during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UK is now in the midst of the second wave of Covid-19, having adopted a local tier system across the country. Whilst shielding restrictions for people with cancer were eased somewhat during the summer when the risk of catching the coronavirus was lower, the R rate as of the end of October stands at around 1.2-1.4 with a growth of 3-6% per day. If you have a diagnosis of cancer and are undergoing treatment at this time, then you may be concerned about navigating both cancer and Covid-19 simultaneously. Follow the below guidance as well as seeking individual advice from your professional healthcare team.
Anyone can catch Covid-19, but those with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk of becoming seriously ill if they catch the disease. Not everyone with cancer will be in this heightened risk category, but broadly speaking if you have recently received, or are currently receiving chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy or other targeted cancer treatments, then you could be classed as being extremely clinically vulnerable. Additionally, if you are taking immunosuppression drugs or have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months, then you would also be considered as clinically vulnerable. Your medical team should have already shared bespoke shielding advice with you depending on your individual situation. If this isn’t the case, then you should seek guidance immediately.
In the event that you’re not classed as being clinically vulnerable, then you should follow the advice as it pertains to your local area and the imposed tier restrictions.
You may be worrying about how your treatment will be affected by the ongoing pandemic. Please be assured that there are no concerns about cancer drugs running out and the UK has a large stockpile of necessary medicines. However, it’s important to get in touch with your hospital team who will be able to provide advice about your individual plan and what factors might cause delays. It’s essential that people with cancer are able to receive treatment in a safe environment, which is why there may be delays as hospitals are required to implement additional measures during the pandemic.
In the event that your treatment is paused, stay in touch with support groups to keep your spirits up. If you’re experiencing hair loss which is getting you down, then chemo wigs are a great way to bring back your confidence and provide you with a sense of normality during your cancer journey. Talking to friends and family about your concerns is incredibly important during this time, but if you prefer then you can also access support services such as Talking Buddies which is available through Macmillan.
Whilst there are a wide range of Covid-19 symptoms being reported, the main ones to look out for are a persistent cough, a high temperature and loss of smell or taste. If you experience any potential Covid symptoms whilst having a compromised immune system, you should get in touch with the Acute Oncology Department at the hospital you’re being treated at, or any other alternative emergency number you’ve been provided with. Crucially, you must self-isolate for 14 days if you experience any of these symptoms unless a Covid-19 test result reads as negative.
If you have any queries or concerns about your cancer journey, then call Macmillan Cancer Support line on 0808 808 00 00 from 8am-8pm, 7 days a week.