Coping when coronavirus delays treatment

Thursday 18 February 2021

Coronavirus is putting huge pressure on the NHS and in turn, having an impact on cancer diagnoses and treatment.

Hearing stories in the media may understandably add to your anxiety about your diagnosis and increase your concerns about wanting to start treatment as soon as possible.

Treatment alterations and cancellations are occurring mostly because the NHS is facing unprecedented demands caused by the coronavirus. 

It’s important to be informed but it’s easy to become overwhelmed if you watch every news bulletin and read every article about the virus. Instead, you may find it useful to reduce the amount of news that you expose yourself to as this could be adding to your worries, sometimes without even being aware. 

You may have mixed emotions and feel let down, disappointed, sad, and angry at the NHS at a time when you need them.

It may help to try and gently remind yourself that the NHS and its workforce are working around the clock to fight this pandemic and get services back to normal as soon as they possibly can.

There is no right or wrong way to feel right now, and it’s okay to accept whatever your feelings are.

The uncertainty may mean you feel disempowered but there are things that you can put into place to help you feel more in control during this period.

Ways to cope with anxieties

Eat a balanced diet

Focus on nourishing your body with what it needs.

Eating balanced meals can help to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day which can help stabilise your mood.

Focus on keeping as active as possible

Everyone has different fitness abilities but try where possible to get outside into the fresh air – even if for just a short walk. It will release some endorphins – the feel-good hormones. 

Yoga is a good option to increase body and breath awareness, helping to calm your mind. 

Many of us are struggling to get a good night’s rest. Exercising can help improve your sleep and the quality of sleep.

Focus on your breath

Try following some breathing exercises or join one of the relaxation sessions at Maggie’s to help calm your mind.

There are some great exercises on the Relaxation page of our website.

Speak to friends and family

We know how hard it is if you can’t be with the people you love, but try and make the most of a phone call or set up a zoom chat if you can.

It’s wonderful to hear someone’s voice or see their face, even online.

Talk to a Maggie’s cancer support specialist for some emotional support

Sometimes uncertainty can cause anxiety, distress or depression and it's important to talk about how you feel and get help.

We’re here with you on the phone or via email or you can arrange to pop in and see us. Find your nearest centre to get contact details.

Take pleasure in small things

Light a candle, read a book, indulge in a face mask, or cook your favourite meal.

Comforting little moments can have a big impact on our mood.

Write things down

It may help to physically write down your worries to help offload them. 

When you read them through some of the anxiety may start to lift.

Maybe write down something you are grateful for each day, whether it was just the sight of spring shoots in the garden or a lovely chat you had with a family member.

Try and focus on the here and now

It’s easy to get anxious about what lies ahead and thoughts of the what-ifs.

Try some mindfulness techniques to help you stay grounded in the present.

Speak to your medical team

If you have concerns, then you can try and speak to someone on your medical team, perhaps your specialist nurse.

Be prepared that in some hospitals staff are not currently working in their usual areas – so you may get an out of office message, or have to speak to someone you haven’t met before.

You can also discuss any specific worries that you might have with your GP.

Get support at Maggie's

We're here in our centres, on the phone and by email if you have questions or want to talk things through.

Find your nearest Maggie's to get details of how to get in touch.

Get cancer support near you

To find your nearest Maggie's centre, enter your postcode or town below.

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