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Dealing with the emotional impact of coronavirus and pancreatic cancer

The last few months have been hard, and we know that this is still a very worrying time. Dealing with pancreatic cancer is tough anyway, and the situation with coronavirus has probably caused further stress and anxiety. You may be worried about getting coronavirus and getting seriously ill from it. And you might also be concerned about its impact your cancer treatment.

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Dealing with different feelings as lockdown eases

You may be dealing with lots of different feelings as lockdown starts to ease. It is hard to get away from the news about coronavirus, and you may feel it’s still dominating everyday life. Staying at home and not seeing friends and family may have been difficult – especially as you may want to spend more time with those close to you if you have pancreatic cancer, not less. But you may have some worries and anxieties as lockdown starts to ease.

The last few months have been hard for everyone, but if you have pancreatic cancer, you will also be dealing with the emotional impact of that, as well as coronavirus. It is normal to feel a range of emotions as restrictions start to ease.

You may have mixed feelings about the easing of lockdown. On the one hand, you may be relieved that you can now go out more and see people again. But you may still be worried about catching coronavirus, and feel anxious about going out.

If you have been shielding, these feelings may be particularly strong, as you have spent so long staying at home to protect yourself from coronavirus. It may take some time to get used to going out again, and you may need to take things slowly at first. You may need to adjust to changes that have happened, such as queueing to go into shops, wearing masks, and the introduction of personal protective equipment in shops, restaurants and hairdressers. You may also feel pressure from others to start seeing people again, but you may not be comfortable with this yet.   

Although the lockdown is starting to ease, social distancing should still be followed when meeting people you don't live with or aren't in a support bubble or extended household with. This means that although you may be able to start seeing more people, you still can't hug or touch them, or be close to them.

What can help?

  • Talk to friends and family about how you are feeling. Sometimes just talking things through can help.
  • You can also talk to our specialist nurses on our Support Line. They can provide emotional support as well as answer any questions about pancreatic cancer and coronavirus. The Support Line is free and open 10am-4pm. Call 0808 801 0707 or email nurse@pancreaticcancer.org.uk
  • Some people find it hard to talk to people close to them. You can speak to others affected by pancreatic cancer and share experiences on our online forum.

You may also these tips helpful in creating routine and looking after yourself. This can help you feel more in control, and deal with different emotions.

  • Stay in touch with friends and family – you can now see people, as well as using phone, email, social media or online things like Skype or Zoom to stay in touch. Read the guidance for how many people you can see, depending on where you live.
  • If you live alone, you could think about forming a "support bubble" or "extended household". This will mean that you don’t need to worry about social distancing with others in your support bubble.  
  • Keep up to date with what changes to government advice means for you, but make sure you get information from reliable sources. Our information about coronavirus is regularly updated, and our nurse blogs explain recent changes. The government and NHS websites will also have up-to-date information. 
  • Try to keep active. Have a look at our blog about keeping active and our information about physical activity, or on the NHS website. There are online fitness classes available – just make sure you choose one that’s right for your level of fitness.
  • Try to eat well. This can be difficult if you are feeling anxious, and pancreatic cancer can also affect your digestion, which can make this harder. Read our information about how to manage problems with diet and digestion, including pancreatic enzymes to deal with symptoms.
  • Try to keep busy if you are staying at home as much as possible – find activities that you enjoy that you can do at home. Some ideas might include reading, listening to or playing music, hobbies, jigsaws, online learning or watching films.
  • Try to find ways to relax. This might include reading or watching the TV. Or you could try mindfulness, which uses meditation and breathing to change the way you think and feel about a situation. There is more information about mindfulness on the NHS website.
  • Try to sleep well. If you are worrying about things, this may affect your sleep, and if you are tired, this can make it harder to cope with things. There are things you can do to improve your sleep. Read more in our information about problems sleeping.
  • Try to limit how much you watch, read or listen to the news if it is making you more worried. You could try tuning in just once a day at the same time each day – and then focus on other things the rest of the time.
  • Maggie’s have information about cancer, loneliness and coronavirus, and things that might help.

You can find more information about dealing with the emotional impact of coronavirus and looking after your mental health at:

Worries about coronavirus and your treatment

You may be worried about the impact of coronavirus on your pancreatic cancer treatment. The NHS will try to continue providing treatment and care for people with cancer, but some things may change.

Read our blog about what treatment and hospital appointments may be like at the moment.

What can help?

  • Speak to your medical team about what coronavirus means for you and your treatment. They will be able to discuss the best options for you personally.
  • You can speak to our specialist nurses on our Support Line about what coronavirus means for you and your treatment. 

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Read our information on dealing with the practical impact of coronavirus, such as work and finances.