Coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted a lot of people, especially people living with cancer or people who have cancer symptoms.
As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and our #FeelYourBreast movement, we want to provide guidance to those who are living with cancer and those who are experiencing cancer symptoms during this difficult time. It doesn’t just have to be Breast Cancer.
We’re here to help every single one of you and support you where we can.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a viral infection that affects the lungs. For people who have a weakened immune system, this can mean that they are more at risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract Coronavirus (COVID-19). People with cancer may be at a higher risk of contracting the virus, so it’s always important to follow government guidelines and do what’s best for YOU.
It’s important to look after yourself during this difficult time, even more than you previously did. You can do this by practicing social distancing, shielding and self-isolating. We know it’s difficult to be away from your Breasties and your loved ones and we know that living with cancer or experiencing cancer symptoms during the pandemic is worrying. There is no denying that.
We’re here to support you as much as we can. Coronavirus will not beat us and neither will cancer.
I’m Experiencing Coronavirus Symptoms and I Have Cancer. What Do I Do?
Firstly, it’s important to know that if you’re experiencing coronavirus symptoms and you’re living with cancer, you should seek medical advice urgently.
Coronavirus symptoms (COVID-19) are:
A new or continuous cough
A high temperature
A loss of taste or smell
I have symptoms of cancer but I'm scared to go to my GP due to coronavirus
Please, girls, don’t be scared.
Remember, the NHS are here to help you no matter what climate we’re living in. Many GP practices now have social distancing and Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines in place to minimise the risk of infection as much as possible. If you spot something that doesn’t seem right, such as excessive fatigue, changes in your weight, unusual bleeding or odd lumps and bumps, it’s always best to get it checked out. Coronavirus or no Coronavirus.
And ladies, if you spot a lump in your breast, don’t let it rest. You can read our guide on what to look for here.
I have cancer. What will happen to my cancer treatment?
Unfortunately, a great deal of cancer treatment has been put on hold due to the recent outbreak but a lot of hospitals are now resuming treatment due to infection rates going down.
If you’re worried about how Coronavirus might affect you, your hospital team can talk you through the effect of your treatment and any hospital appointments you might have coming up. Remember, they’re only doing what’s best for you and following cancer guidelines during this difficult time.
What are the risks of chemotherapy during covid-19?
As chemotherapy weakens the immune system, this can put a lot of cancer patients at risk of contracting the virus. The immune system is the body’s natural defence mechanism against bacteria, viruses and other foreign bodies so unfortunately, weakening it even more with chemotherapy during this time isn’t always the best route. It’s always best to speak to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
I'm a vulnerable patient. Do I need to self-isolate?
Ideally, yes. We know that self-isolating isn’t easy and it can be very lonely, but we’re here to support you, girls. We will always recommend that you follow government guidelines where absolutely necessary.
Above all, it’s important that you stay in touch with your Breasties and your loved ones. Set up Whatsapp groups, Zoom calls and other virtual hangouts to keep things as normal as possible. Get baking, stay active and do things you otherwise wouldn’t have had the time to do.
It’s also important that you have enough medication and food stocked up, especially if you’re feeling peckish. Macmillan has a lot of information on their website for cancer patients who are self-isolating or who are preparing to self-isolate.
How Can I Support Someone I Know with Cancer During Coronavirus?
The most important thing to know with Coronavirus is that supporting your Breasties has never been more important, especially if they have cancer or are experiencing cancer symptoms. Maybe they need their shopping doing or their medication collecting or maybe they just need you to be there at the other end of the phone. Whatever it is, just being there is enough.
If you’re caring for someone who has cancer during Coronavirus (COVID-19), make sure you wear a face mask at all times and wash your hands constantly for a minimum of 20-30 seconds to avoid cross contamination. Remember, they’re a vulnerable patient so you have to take extra precaution. If you sneeze or cough or are handling food, hand washing is also a must. Say no to germs, girls.
We hope that these cancer guidelines will help you and remember, we will always be here for you.
Never forget that you are strong, you are powerful and you are bold. You’ve got this.