Hello, We are Lynne and Emma, specialist pancreatic cancer nurses. We know this is a worrying time and there is a lot of safety advice around coronavirus which may impact you and your family’s day to day life.
In this week’s blog we wanted to give you some information and resources to help with practical and emotional challenges. It covers finances, community support, looking after children and more. We want to stress how important it is to remember that help is still out there during these uncertain times.
Whether you are practicing social distancing, self-isolation or shielding, making plans can help you prepare for staying at home for as long as you need to. Thinking ahead is helpful but can also feel hard so we have a planning checklist on our website that might be useful.
If you aren’t leaving the house, please let people know. You might need to ask family and friends to help out by getting food and medication for you. Across the country there are different support services which can help you with getting supplies. For example, the government has set up services that you can register for if you are shielding. If you haven’t been told by the NHS that you need to shield but you need urgent food or care, contact your local council.
There are also local community volunteer groups being set up across the UK to support people who are self-isolating or shielding. You can find local groups through the Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK website. Some groups are distributing leaflets locally telling you how to get in touch, or using social media.
Read more about where you should go for help and support.
We know that having pancreatic cancer can affect your finances, and you may find that the measures you have to take to stay safe and well during the coronavirus is having an additional impact on your finances. It is OK to ask for help.
You may now need to apply for additional finances to support yourself that you may not have done so before. The government has put in place financial support for people affected by coronavirus who can’t work. For example, your employer may be able to put you on furlough if there is no work for you, which means the government pays 80% of your salary. And if you have symptoms and aren’t covered by your work’s sick pay, you may be entitled to statutory sick pay. If you are self-employed, you may be able to get a grant through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.
You can also speak with your local cancer information centre who can provide financial advice. It may be that at the moment your local cancer information centre is closed, but more financial support and information can be found on the Macmillan Cancer Support and Maggie’s Centres websites.
If you are still working, the government is asking for you to work from home. If this isn’t possible you can continue going to work as long as you aren’t at higher risk of getting seriously ill if you get coronavirus.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus, or live with someone who has symptoms, you should not go to work but must self-isolate. You can get an isolation note from the NHS website to give to your employer.
Last week, we talked about things that can help you look after your mental health at the moment. But if you are struggling with your emotions and finding that you are not coping well at the minute this is totally understandable. Please don’t sit at home worrying – make sure you ask for help, support or advice if you need it.
There are many ways that you can do this and stay safe.
- Contact your local cancer information centre - which may be offering advice over the telephone or email.
- Maggie’s Centres are also offering telephone or email services.
- Contact your hospital team to discuss support.
- Speak with your GP.
There are also online services:
Talking to children
You may have children and are worried about how all this impacts on them, whether it be due to a loved one having cancer or the current coronavirus situation. Having open and honest conversations with your children can be difficult, as a parent’s instinct is to protect. However it is always best where you can to be as open as possible. If you are struggling to find the words to talk to children about cancer there are resources available to help support those conversations. There are also support networks that available for children to support them.
Current events are impacting all of us and this is no different for children. Here are some tips to help you talk to your children about the coronavirus:
- Listen to what your child is saying and how they are feeling.
- Be clear about what’s happening.
- Limit news around the coronavirus.
- Keep close and regular contact.
- Create new routines.
- Keep them active.
- Eat healthily and avoid too may treats.
- Keep their usual sleep routine.
- Look after your own mental health and get support.
If you are a grandparent, it can be hard for both you and your grandchildren if you can’t see each other at the moment. During this time we have to try and think of ways of staying connected with our loved ones, often finding new ways to keep in touch. You may have to start using technology to help with this, using video calling by using What’s app, facetime, Skype or Zoom.
There is more information available on the Every Mind Matters website.
While all this is going on you may still be having symptoms from pancreatic cancer or side effects from your treatment. It is so important that these are still taken care of alongside keeping safe during this time. Please seek advice on how to manage symptoms and side effects as soon as possible by contacting your specialist nurse, hospital team or your GP. Read last week’s blog for more about getting support with symptoms at the moment.
If you have any general medical concerns that are not related to your cancer, you should contact your GP practice over the phone for advice. You should not attend the GP surgery in person if you have any symptoms of the coronavirus or if you have been asked to shield at home.
If you have an urgent medical need then you should still either contact 111, 999 or attend A&E. They are still open as usual.
We’re aware that this week the government announced that more NHS services will be opening up again. This will be happening hospital by hospital depending on the local situation. We know from our survey about the impact of coronavirus that there is a lot of variation in services across the country at the moment. We are in touch with the NHS and we will keep you up to date with new information as we get it.
If you have any concerns about your treatment, or questions about pancreatic cancer or coronavirus, you can of course speak to one of our nurse specialists on the Support Line. You can get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or pick up the phone and call them on 0808 801 0707
Thanks for reading our blog, we hope you’ve found it useful; we know things are tough at the moment but stay safe.
Lynne & Emma