Coronavirus update – what do the government announcements on 13 May 2020 mean for people with pancreatic cancer?

14 May 2020

Please be aware that some of the guidance may have changed since we wrote this blog. Read our coronavirus information for details of the current guidance.

Hello, we are Lynne and Emma, Pancreatic Cancer Nurse Specialists. As there has been an easing of the lockdown restrictions on 13 May for some people, we thought we would update you about what this may mean for people with pancreatic cancer and their families.

First of all, it’s important to say that these changes only apply to England. The advice for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland hasn’t changed. Therefore, if you live in one of these countries, you should continue to stay at home, and not see people outside your household.

However if you live in England, there’s been a lot of debate this week about the changes, and you might be wondering what it all means for you. Well, for a lot of people with pancreatic cancer, things haven’t really changed.

People who are at higher risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus

If you have had a letter from the NHS telling you to stay at home for 12 weeks and are shielding – for example because you are having or have recently had chemotherapy – you and your family should follow the advice in the letter and continue shielding.

Even if you aren’t shielding, you may still be at higher risk of getting ill from coronavirus. This includes people who:

  • have a weakened immune system from chemotherapy
  • have had their spleen removed
  • have diabetes
  • are aged over 70.

These people should continue to stay at home as much as possible and, if you do go out, be very careful to minimise contact with others outside your household. This is to protect you from getting coronavirus. Read more on the GOV.UK website.

People who had treatment some time ago

If it is some time since you had treatment for pancreatic cancer and you do not have any of the conditions listed above, you may be at lower risk of becoming seriously ill. This means that now you can go out for:

  • work – if you can’t work from home
  • shopping
  • exercise and recreation, such as sitting outside – you can now do these more than once a day
  • any medical need.

Now the restrictions have eased a little you can also spend time outside with members of your household, and also spend time outside with one other person who doesn’t live with you – as long as you stay 2 metres apart. But you can’t visit family or friends at their home. Read more about the changes in England.

Do remember though that if you have other health conditions like diabetes or have had your spleen removed by surgery, you may still be at higher risk of getting ill from coronavirus. This means you should stay at home as much as possible.

Coping with the continued lockdown

We understand that the current situation is hard. If you are in one of the groups at higher risk of getting ill from coronavirus, you may be struggling with not seeing those close to you, as well as anxiety about coronavirus, and how it’s impacting on your treatment and care. You may also feel like the rest of the country has started to move on and get back to normal, and that you are being left behind. It’s important to remember that these measures remain in place to protect you and keep you safe. Even if you had treatment some time ago and are able to go out a bit more, you still can’t spend much time with family and friends, and will need to stay 2 metres from anyone outside your household.

If you are struggling with your emotions and finding that you are not coping well at the minute this is totally understandable. There are things that can help you deal with these feelings. This week, we have a guest blog from Lesley Howells, Lead Psychologist at Maggie’s, who talks about dealing with feeling overwhelmed by the current situation. You can also read our information about coping with the emotional and practical impact of coronavirus.

And as always you can speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line about your worries and fears.

Thanks for reading our blog, we hope you’ve found it helpful; we know things are hard at the moment but please stay safe.

Lynne & Emma