We understand that people with cancer are worried about coronavirus. Here is the latest guidance. We will update it regularly.

Ask an Information and Support Adviser

Our Information and Support Advisers, Alex, Ruth and Jenna, are here to answer any questions you might have. They can answer questions about the emotional impacts of cancer and offer practical tips. They'll aim to respond within 1 working day.

Covid 19 and going to hospital

Posted by

Hi, my dad has just been diagnosed with cancer and he starts Chemo early next week. I am after tips and advice for trying to manage the risks of Covid 19 as he is so vulnerable. I am petrified he is going to leave the house. I understand it can stay on clothes etc he also cant stop itching due to pain medication and it will be difficult for him to not touch his face. Many thanks.

Posted by

At the moment I’m travelling Barts Hospital in central London every weekday for radiotherapy and have no option but to use public transport to do so.  I try to follow these rules

  • Always have hand sanitiser - I know that this isn’t easy to get hold of at the moment.  My pharmacist was kind enough to hold some back for me when I told him I was starting treatment two weeks ago.  He also have me a massive bottle of rubbing alcohol (70%) which when mixed with Aloe Vera gel is just as effective (if a bit smelly).  Use it frequently but be diligent about using it after touching anything when you’re out and about
  • Keep hands in pockets - I know this sounds obvious but consciously keeping your hands in your pockets stops inadvertent face touching.  Another person I regularly meet in treatment has a string of beads in each pocket that she fiddles with to keep her hands occupied
  • If you are in London, get a TfL “Please give me a seat” badge.  Siting down means you are less likely to grab rails etc while you are travelling
  • Be strict about social distancing - do not be shy about asking people to keep a couple of meters away from you.  If I have needed to, I say “Excuse me but I am having cancer treatment and need to keep well away from other people because of the risk of infection”. On every occasion the other person has complied and a couple of times wished me luck with my treatment.  Most people have had their lives impacted by cancer, either themselves or through a loved one, and understand the impact.
  • Wash your hands - only take your hands out of your pockets when you get to the hospital and immediately wash/sanitise your hands.  Wash them again at every opportunity
  • Use tissues to open doors and press lift buttons - and then dispose of then in a bin.  If you haven’t got tissues become adept at using your elbow or ask someone else to push /open for you.  Don’t put the tissues back in your pocket!

The main thing is not to be shy.  This is a time when you need help and when others know that they are usually only too pleased to give it.

I'm sure others have some great tips and hints they can add.  Wish your Dad the best of luck from me.


Posted by

Thank you Michael for sharing all of this detail and taking the time to do so. It's helped me think some things through to prepare my dad. 

Good luck with your treatment. My thoughts are with you. 

Ellen B - Macmillan

Hi ,

Thank you for asking a question in our ‘Ask an Expert’ session, the Community team appreciates that the current uncertainty may cause many to be concerned, and we understand that many members of the Community will want to ask our health care professionals here questions about Coronavirus.

In normal circumstances, we would forward your question on to our ‘Ask a nurse’ session for one of our Cancer Information Nurses to answer. Unfortunately, due to the number of questions being asked about Coronavirus, and the increase in demand on our services, have currently closed our ‘Ask a nurse’ session here on the site.

Instead we want to signpost you to the page on Macmillan’s website dedicated to Coronavirus and cancer for some information and support. If you click here you will also find the most up to date information from the NHS advice page.

If you feel it’s important to speak to a nurse over the phone, the Macmillan Support Line is open Monday – Friday 9am-5pm. Cancer Information Nurses, as well as other support professionals, will answer your calls and listen to your concerns.

You can call the Support Line free on 0808 808 00 00.

If you are concerned about the health of yourself or a loved one, we would recommend calling your GP, the NHS on 111 or your team at the hospital.

We hope that the above is helpful, but any questions or concerns you can email the Community Team at community@macmillan.org.uk

Kindest regards, 

Macmillan Community Team