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Anxiety, isolation and delays in treatment plans are the top concerns facing people affected by cancer during the coronavirus pandemic according to Macmillan Cancer Support and the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Cancer Alliance. 

Both organisations work together to run the Macmillan Living With and Beyond Cancer Programme in South and Mid Yorkshire, Bassetlaw and North Derbyshire. The Macmillan programme which started in 2016 aims to ensure personalised care and support for people diagnosed with cancer across the region. 

Macmillan and the Cancer Alliance asked local cancer support organisations, based in hospitals, the charity and voluntary sectors, to share the top concerns reported by people affected by cancer during the pandemic based on their local knowledge and experience.
Richard Metcalfe is the Macmillan Programme Manager and Cancer Alliance Programme Lead, he said: 

“We’ve been capturing patient feedback from the organisations we work with since the start of lockdown, we needed to understand the impact of the pandemic on people diagnosed with cancer. 

“The top concern of anxiety is something that is echoed across the country; and reflects the other top concerns of delays to cancer treatment plans and feelings of isolation. 

“The last few months have been an extremely anxious time for everyone; dealing with a cancer diagnosis on top of everything else can amplify this stress. Especially for people who have experienced a delay in their treatment and the many people across the region who have been shielding.”  

The eleven cancer support organisations that work as part of the large-scale Macmillan Living With and Beyond Cancer Programme have risen to the challenge posed by the pandemic and all have been able to provide ongoing support for people affected by cancer remotely. 

Julie Hoole is the Macmillan Strategic Partnership Manager for Yorkshire, she said: 

“The top concerns identified by the Macmillan Programme are unsurprising but extremely worrying. We’re concerned that many people living with cancer are reluctant to contact their healthcare teams because they’re scared of infection or don’t want to bother the NHS. 

“We need people to know that there is support out there for them, our local partners have been incredible in adapting quickly to provide support remotely. 

“We’ve found that many of our 43 Macmillan Cancer Support Workers, in place because of Macmillan funding across the region, have been able to provide ongoing support while cancer treatment has been paused or because cancer teams were re-deployed because of the pandemic. 

“Macmillan’s Support Line is experiencing massive demand, over 5000 calls a week from across the region, echoing the concerns of isolation, mental health and delays in treatment.   

“We want people who are worried to know that there is support available." 

For more information and support visit the Macmillan website.