For cancer patients and their families, the recent easing of Covid restrictions, while very welcome, was perhaps also a time of increased worry for patients and their loved ones.
With many cancer patients classed as being vulnerable, their need to maintain the public health advice on social distancing, wearing masks, and minimising contact with others has been paramount. Now that many of these precautions are no longer mandated, their adjustment back to pre-Covid activity may cause additional concern.
Local charity Cancer Care West are seeing first-hand the worry this is causing cancer patients. Dr. Helen Greally (Director of Psychology and Support Services at the charity) commented: “For people living with cancer, it has been especially important to be rigorous in adhering to the pandemic public health advice. Now patients are surrounded by people who no longer need to be so careful, and this may leave patients feeling vulnerable and apprehensive. No cancer patient wants to add Covid-19 to their health concerns, but their sense of control over their ability to keep it at bay may feel compromised.
“For people in this situation, it’s important to keep perspective and allow yourself time to adjust. Be patient with yourself and with your feelings. Feelings of anxiety are likely to pass with time as we get used to the ‘new normal’ but it’s important to do what we can during this period or re-adjustment to take care of our mental health”.
The charity has drawn up a list of things to consider which may help cancer patients and others in the vulnerable group. Their message is that anyone who is feeling worried or anxious should contact their support network and talk through their concerns. If you are living with cancer and need support during this transition period please contact Cancer Care West on 091-540040.
Some tips for coping with relaxed Covid restrictions include going at your own pace, not avoiding things entirely, getting your information from the right sources, discussing any changes with your close loved ones, making time to relax, challenging unhelpful thoughts, confiding in someone you trust (especially when feeling overwhelmed), planning social occasions, finding routine where you can, and focusing on the present.