COVID19 and Cancer
Are you currently undergoing cancer treatment, or a recent cancer survivor with questions in relation to the current outbreak of COVID-19?
If you are feeling anxious, have questions or need support, please remember that Cancer Council’s support and information line is available on 13 11 20 during business hours. Their specially trained team can provide emotional support as well as practical tips for minimising the risk of infection during this time.
Whatever your situation, the Cancer Council Victoria advises there are some practical ways to limit your risks of exposure, and we list some of these below.
Talk to your doctor or member of your treatment team about the times in your treatment when you may be at the highest risk of infection so you can plan your activities accordingly. (Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to boosting the immune system beyond adhering to a healthy lifestyle).
Call your treatment team to see if you can do you some of your consultations remotely via phone, Skype or Facetime.
Avoid crowds and crowded areas and avoid unnecessary physical contact, such as shaking hands, hugging or kissing. This is especially important if you are currently having chemotherapy or are post treatments such as bone marrow transplantation.
Avoid contact with those who are sick or unwell or have been exposed to the virus or may be at higher risk due to recent travel to another country.
Maintain a 1.5 metre physical distance between yourself and others and avoid social habits such as kissing or handshakes.
Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or if not immediately available use an alcohol-based hand rub. It’s a good idea to carry this with you. It is especially important to wash your hands before eating or drinking.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as this can transfer the virus from surfaces and increase the risk of infection.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (tables, benches, light switches, doorknobs, sinks, toilets, remotes, such as your mobile phone or eating surfaces). Wear gloves (disposable if possible). Clean obvious debris with soap and water. Clean with a 70% alcohol solution or a mix of 4 teaspoons of bleach per litre of water.
Stay home as much as possible and avoid non-essential travel and avoid public transport if you can.
FAMILY, FRIENDS AND CARERS -
If you have had contact with a person who could be at an increased risk of having the cororavirus, avoid any contact with the person who is receiving cancer treatment.
Talk to your health care provider about receiving the influenza vaccination as early in the flu season as possible to avoid passing on other infections and increasing the risk that you or your family member or friend will need healthcare.
Maintaining friendships and relationships can be especially difficult if you need to distance yourself to from others to reduce your risk of infection. Friends and family play an important role in managing your welfare during a difficult and anxious time. Here are some tips for keeping in contact with friends and family:
If face-to-face contact is not possible try to use video calling tools such as FaceTime or Skype to communicate
Call friends and family as often as possible and let them know how you’re feeling so they can offer the support you need
Use group chat tools such as Facebook messenger to keep in touch with many people at once
Think about whether there are other ways to stay connected while maintaining a social distance. Is there a neighbour you can talk to over the fence?
Cancer Council’s online community is a place where you can talk to other people who might be in a similar situation to you. Find the online community here.