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Your world might have changed, but we haven’t. In this series, we talk about the impact coronavirus might have on your life and how to manage it.
The sudden changes to how we are living our lives can be hard to comprehend. Advice and restrictions change daily as we learn more about coronavirus. It can feel all-consuming at times. Keeping up, as well as trying to interpret what it means for us, can be extremely difficult.
You might be worried about how coronavirus will affect you – maybe you’re wondering what your risk is, or how your care and treatment might change. At Jo’s, we want to help you make sense of this new world we are living in, give you some tips for coping, and offer some reassurance around the decisions that are being made.
We don’t have all the answers, but here’s what we can tell you:
This isn’t a nice situation to be in and it’s okay to acknowledge that – in fact, we encourage it. Give yourself permission to recognise your feelings so you can start to process them. And, let’s face it, there is a lot to process at the moment, especially if you are currently having or waiting for treatment for cancer or cell changes. Mindfulness could help. Here is a quick mindfulness exercise to try:
You do can this exercise, or one like it, whenever you feel it would be helpful. There are lots of free tools to help you practice mindfulness, including ones created by organisations like Mind and apps like Headspace.
It’s so important to try and look after your mental health during this difficult time, especially if you are shielding or self-isolating. How you do this is up to you, but simple things such as trying a new hobby, connecting with an old friend or starting a diary can help. At a time when things can feel out of control, it could also help to think of things you can maintain control over and developing a routine for your day. Exercise is really good for your mental health, so setting aside time to get some exercise can be really beneficial – if you aren’t sure what you can do at home then there are lots of tips on the NHS website.
The Jo’s team have a few tips too. Our Head of Communications, Kate, is setting aside time each morning to try a different online exercise class, while our Senior Digital Officer, Ellie, is embracing the app House Party and our Information Manager, Imogen, is falling back in love with old video games.
Peer to peer support can also be a really valuable tool and our Forum provides just that. It’s a safe space to chat with others who are going through something similar, and right now there is a lot of conversation and support around coronavirus and cancer. If you don’t feel like chatting, you can read through the threads.
There are some amazing resources out there which you might find useful. Here are a few:
Everything is changing really quickly and you might feel a little out of control, even when it comes to your own treatment. We know that delays or changes, as well as different ways of keeping in touch with your team, can be extremely hard to deal with.
Where changes are being made, they are to keep you as safe and healthy as possible. Understanding what is happening and what the next steps are might help you process these changes and lessen any anxiety you feel.
We have some suggested questions that you might find useful to ask. It isn’t an exhaustive list so do think about what would help you and create your own list.
As fewer face-to-face appointments are happening, phone or video consultations might take a little while to get used to. But if you try to treat every appointment in the same way you would if it were face to face, it will become normal quickly. Like face-to-face appointments, try to have a loved one with you still – if they aren’t able to be physically there, think about tools, like a group call, that could mean they are virtually with you.
Remember, whether you are still seeing your team in person or you are in touch virtually, the level of care they are committed to giving you has not changed. They are still working just as hard to look after you and make the best decisions for and with you. If you have any questions at all, whatever they are about, your healthcare team should be the first people you contact.
At the moment, there are lots of opportunities to get involved in volunteering and supporting efforts against coronavirus. There are also lots of people who are facing difficult situations. We understand that you may want to get involved and help support others but it is really important to look after yourself before you help others – especially if you have recently finished or are in the middle of cancer treatment. As hard as it might be, your focus should be on making a full recovery. Try to follow the advice of your team and let others support you for a while. The better place you are in, the more you will be able to help others further down the line.
If you truly feel well enough or need to be doing something, Jo’s has some less intensive opportunities you could get involved in to support others living with cervical cancer:
We are still here. Whether you want to chat, cry or vent, the Jo’s team and our amazing volunteers are just a call away.
If you haven’t used our free Helpline before, it’s a safe, confidential way to talk through anything that is on your mind and get support from someone who understands. No question is too big or silly – honestly, we’ve heard it all and have probably asked it ourselves at some point! We don’t have all the answers, but we can help you find reliable sources or point you in the right direction.