The start of 2021 is proving to be an acutely challenging time for people with cancer, the NHS and for cancer care. Indeed, it’s clear that this is the most worrying time in recent history to get a cancer diagnosis.
At Macmillan, people are calling our Support Line every day to tell us about the heightened anxiety, loneliness and distress that they are feeling.
On our support line – open seven days a week, 8am – 8pm, on 0808 808 00 00 – specially trained nurses, counsellors and financial support advisors are available to help anyone affected by, or worried about, cancer. They can provide comprehensive information and advice, as well as emotional support, to help people with cancer cope with the additional strain of the coronavirus pandemic.
We know doctors and nurses are working in unspeakably difficult conditions and are having to make tough decisions every day. Healthcare professionals are doing everything they can to keep cancer care on track, but we also know that some treatment – operations, for example – are being cancelled or postponed because essential services such as ITU are full of seriously ill people with Covid-19.
What is absolutely vital is that if there are changes to treatment plans, these must involve the person living with cancer and be communicated clearly.
Although some changes may be needed for treatment plans, this is not the case everywhere or for all treatments or tests. Healthcare professionals are doing everything they can to make hospitals a safe environment so it’s really important that people with cancer who have been invited for tests or treatment do attend.
GPs are open if you are worried about possible cancer symptoms, and screening and other vital tests have resumed in a Covid-safe way. The NHS is still here for you.
As well as our Support Line, comprehensive cancer information and support, including our latest guidance on the impact of coronavirus on cancer care is also available on www.macmillan.org.uk and our online community is there to provide invaluable emotional and peer support.
We are doing whatever it takes to make sure our vital support continues to be available. We urge the public to do their bit to reduce the spread of coronavirus, which will in turn relieve pressure on the NHS.
Signed by Emma Tingley, Macmillan Cancer Support Head of Partnerships, London and South East