Cancer Patients Are 'Lost In Lockdown'

Macmillan Cancer Support says thousands of people are afraid to leave the house because of Covid 19.

A leading charity says almost 40 thousand people with cancer in Wales are afraid to leave the house because of the threat of coronavirus. 

Macmillan Cancer Support says its research has found 9 thousand reported experiencing panic attacks or even suicidal thoughts.

They are concerned that thousands of people here are 'lost in lockdown' and are urging them to seek help from their support services.

At a time when the charity’s income faces a significant drop, Macmillan is doing everything it can to be there for people with cancer during the pandemic, who need it more than ever.

Its Telephone Buddies scheme matches volunteers with cancer patients so they can arrange to have regular chats with someone about what they’re going through, and its free Support Line and Online Community remain valuable sources of virtual support. 

It has also launched an emergency fundraising appeal, in a bid to ensure it can continue to fund services and provide cancer care and support now and in the future.

Macmillan is calling for the Welsh Government to continue prioritising the mental and physical health of people living with cancer. This must include the allocation of staffing and resources needed to deliver the safest possible care.

Heather, 49, from Cardiff, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in December 2019, said: "I can’t overstate the impact of anxiety about possible impact of coronavirus on treatment plans. 

"For me, this was another layer of anxiety, falling on top of anxiety caused by diagnosis, by treatment, and by being at increased risk of catching coronavirus.

"At the very time I was supposed to be shielding – and I was – I was also having to go to hospital every day for treatment.

"Having an underlying condition like cancer made me feel expendable. I know a lot of people with cancer felt that way.

"Talking to other patients online from across the UK, I know that treatment plans have been reduced, postponed or cancelled as resources have been diverted elsewhere.

"Knowing this has made me feel guilty because I am still being treated, and anxious that I might suddenly fall into the ‘unlucky’ category."

Richard Pugh, Head of Partnerships for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, says: "Since the start of lockdown, Macmillan has been campaigning for cancer not to become the forgotten ‘C’ during this pandemic. 

"For many people it is more frightening to be diagnosed with cancer now than during any other time in recent history. On top of the usual worries about a cancer diagnosis, patients now feel lost in lockdown, having to contend with uncertainty around treatment, shielding restrictions and isolation from loved ones, as well as concerns about their increased risk of contracting the virus.

"We’re doing everything we can do be there for people with cancer during the pandemic, but these findings show the devastating emotional and physical legacy awaiting cancer patients if  the Welsh Government does not urgently prioritise their physical and mental health."

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