Over the past few weeks we’ve been hearing from many people about their concerns surrounding COVID-19 and cancer. We continue to advocate for these issues to be addressed to ensure that people affected by cancer continue to receive the best care, information and support during this time. This is some of what we’ve heard and how we’ve responded.
“How safe will we be going into a large hospital. How safe will the theatre be – all the usual questions.”
“I’m feeling vulnerable due to fluctuating immune system”
“If my cancer condition changes from its current stable state, and I need a treatment in hospital that I could be exposed to Coronavirus.”
Compromising clinical care
“A trial drug that was deemed to be my best option for treatment has had the trial cancelled. This is devastating particularly when I know my oncologist was so keen to get me on this. The chemo I am undergoing was not the preferred long-term treatment”.
“I have put off going to the doctor and getting some routine tests as I don't want to go to the clinic and be near other people…. How long I should put off attending face to face appointments?”
“My main concern is that my last cycle of chemotherapy was cancelled due to the high risk… I'm just concerned that missing the last cycle will not have the effectiveness that I would have hoped for.”
Concerns from carers
“I’m a health professional working in a hospital, and I am also caring for my partner who is undergoing cancer treatment. Am I increasing his risk of contracting coronavirus because of my exposure at work?”
“I am looking after my elderly mother-in-law who is having chemotherapy. What precautions should I be putting in place during this pandemic. My mother-in-law lives alone and I want to know how we can support her as a family without increasing her risk.”
Mental and emotional health
“Though we've been living with uncertainty before this pandemic, I think we're finding that we have a lot more to worry about. COVID-19 definitely effects mental health, especially anxiety.”
I feel very isolated as all health treatment (hydrotherapy, massage etc.) has stopped.”
What Cancer Council is doing to help
We have escalated these top concerns to the Victorian COVID-19 Cancer Taskforce, a group of leading clinicians, departments, institutions and patient advocacy groups across Victoria. The Taskforce is looking at how best they can address these concerns and communicate this more broadly to Victorians affected by cancer.
We've also shared your concerns with Cancer Council Victoria’s Information and Support Services team to ensure our cancer nurses are equipped to respond to the needs you've identified. These concerns will be incorporated into our frequently asked questions page on COVID-19 and cancer to help others with similar questions.
We continue to advocate more broadly on issues such as access to priority grocery hours as was seen recently on Channel Ten’s The Project when the Head of our Strategy and Support Division, Danielle Spence, called for improvements to supermarket priority access and increased support services for those affected by cancer.
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We want to hear from you
It’s only through listening to the lived experiences of those with cancer that we can ensure we advocate for the most important issues. If you would like to share your experience to help other Victorians affected by cancer please contact Alice Bastable, Engagement Lead on (03) 9514 6675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.