COVID-19, Cancer and me: Jennifer Young’s guide to oncology safety during a pandemic

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected nearly every person on the planet. Whether you personally have had a positive diagnosis or a family member has, or you are a key services worker on the front line fighting the pandemic, or perhaps you have had to rearrange your entire life by home-schooling the kids or working from home (like Team JY) – everyone’s lives will have been upturned by the events of the last few months. For a select group of people, those in the higher risk category, the conditions of self-isolation are a lot stricter than for the rest of the general public. The ‘high-risk’ category as described by the NHS includes1:
  • People who have had an organ transplant
  • People who have certain types of cancer
  • People who have blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia
  • People who have a severe lung condition, such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma
  • People who have pre-existing conditions that make it more likely to contract infections
  • People who are taking medicine that weakens their immune system
  • People who are pregnant and have serious heart condition
Obviously, anyone with any sort of condition that could compromise their immune system is more vulnerable if they contract the virus, but information circulating from a multitude of different sources can become overwhelming and confusing. The best advice and guidelines come directly from the NHS for the health implications, and from for all other concerns. However, over here at Jennifer Young, we wanted to be another beacon of support for the oncology community, following the advice of the NHS and the government bodies. So, for those who fall into this ‘high-risk’ category, including many cancer patients, what does COVID-19 quarantine mean for you and your loved ones? The UK government has implemented social distancing methods to make sure that people are only going outside for a few necessary reasons. This includes only travelling for essential work, grocery shopping, medicine pick up, caring for the vulnerable and for one hour of exercise per day2. For those with a cancer diagnosis, or for those going through active oncology treatment, the rules are a little different. If you are in the high-risk category, you should NOT leave your house for any of the above reasons. Ask family members or friends to pick up groceries and leave them outside your house – they should not come inside. You should use your garden or indoor space to carry out light exercise if you so wish. When around other people in your household, you should remain at least 2m apart at all times, and keep shared space well ventilated by opening windows where possible. All surfaces in the house, especially shared bathrooms and kitchens, should be disinfected frequently and thoroughly. Hand washing and other personal hygiene standards should be kept high by all members of the household1. These guidelines may seem harsh, but keeping your and your family safe should be your number one priority. So what steps can you take to make sure you’re looking after your well-being during this difficult time? You could:
  • Take up a hobby – remember that craft kit that has been sat in a box in the cupboard for ten years? Time to get it out
  • Pamper yourself – long baths, face masks, hair masks, any kind of mask you can get your hands on! This isn’t just for women either; it’s the perfect opportunity for you gents out there to get a bit of self-care in.
  • Social media – Video call your family or play online games to keep in touch during social distancing. Not being in the same house doesn’t mean that you can’t have some quality family time.
What can Jennifer Young do for you? Other useful links:
  • Here is the full government advice on self-isolating and quarantine:
  • Feeling lonely and is your mental health suffering during from quarantine: Team JY are here for you. Let us know if we can help 1 2

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