Home isolation and cancer

Home isolation and cancer

Home isolation can be challenging for everyone. But if you or someone you love has a cancer diagnosis, it can be especially difficult. In this blog, our cancer information development nurse Rebecca share some ideas of how to keep busy and stay in touch with friends and family while staying at home. For the latest health information about coronavirus, see the information from the NHS for England and Wales, for Scotland and for Northern Ireland.

Staying in touch
It’s important to stay in touch with friends and family while you are in home isolation. Even if you can’t meet in person, a phone call can help you feel connected with others and less alone.

After my lunch plans with friends were cancelled on Saturday, we decided to all have a meal at the same time while talking online instead. If your plans to see friends or family are cancelled, you might want to try turning your phone calls into an activity. Everyone could have a coffee or a meal in their separate homes, while chatting over the phone or a video call.

If you have more free time on your hands than usual, you might ask your friends for book recommendations, or join an online book group. If you’re usually part of a book group that meets up locally, why not continue to do this over the phone or on video chat? Or even just a one to one regular phone call to a friend who shares your love of books. Visit Reading Groups for Everyone to find details of lots of different book groups around the country.

Keeping busy
Since entertainment venues have closed around the country, I have found lots of musicians, comedy clubs, storytellers and many more moving online to give live concerts from their living rooms. Often you can watch these events live or at a time that suits you. This can helpful if you have fatigue. Check social media to find out if this is something your local venues and favourite artists are doing.

It can be difficult to get the exercise you need while you are in home isolation. Depending on the advice for you, you may still be able to go out for walks outside. You should remember to keep to the social distancing advice. However, if you have been told to shield, you should not be leaving the house at all.

If you usually attend an exercise class, you could ask the organiser if it is moving online so that you can do the class from your own home. There are also lots of exercise video tutorials, for all levels of fitness, on YouTube that can help you stay active. If you’re not used to exercising regularly, remember to start at a level that suits you. You may find Macmillan’s Move More pack, which features an exercise DVD, helpful.

Even if you can’t visit your local shops, you can still support them. In my town, the fishmonger, greengrocer, butcher and baker are all offering deliveries so you may still be able to treat yourself. Small craft shops too may be offering deliveries. You could try a new hobby like knitting, crochet, crossword or jigsaw puzzles or get creative and try your hand at drawing, sketching and painting.

Ask for help
Although we are all more isolated, there is a growing sense of community. Around the country, local groups are growing to support others. They can help with things like picking up groceries and phone calls to help you feel less alone. Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK has a list of many of these groups and advice for how to set one up if you don’t have one near you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Our Online Community is also available 24/7 if you need to talk.

At Macmillan, we are doing everything we can to make sure our vital support continues to be available for much needed clinical advice, financial information and emotional support during this difficult time.

Comprehensive cancer information and support, including our latest guidance on the impact of coronavirus on cancer care, is available here. Our online community continues to provide invaluable emotional and peer support. The Macmillan Support Line is open Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm on 0808 808 00 00.

If you have any more tips for coping with isolation, please add them to the comments below.


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The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

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