Support with the cost of living

We understand that living with a cancer diagnosis can have a big impact on your finances. There was strong evidence before the pandemic and the developing ‘cost of living crisis’ that a cancer diagnosis led to disrupted finances and increased energy, travel and living costs.

Many of our member charities provide specialist support for accessing the right benefits, grants and debt relief. The following charities may be able to help you:

Macmillan Cancer Support
Tenovus Cancer Care
Maggies Centre (Cardiff & Swansea)
Marie Curie
Citizens Advice Wales

Meeting with Minister for Health and Social Services, July 2022

Members of the Wales Cancer Alliance were pleased to meet with Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services, earlier this month.

It was a first chance for our member organisations to sit down with the Minister and discuss the forthcoming Cancer Services Action Plan since it was announced in May. The Action Plan will play an important role in delivering the ambitions of the Quality Statement for Cancer, and the Minister shared her expectations for what it should deliver and how it should inform the planning and delivery of cancer services at a health board level.

The Alliance set out our views on the Action Plan, highlighting the need for it to be genuinely co-produced with the third sector, health and care professionals, and people living with cancer. We also had the opportunity to raise some key areas we’d like to see included in the Action Plan – such as a specific focus on young people with cancer, and the less survivable cancers – ahead of further opportunities we’ll have to feed into its content before it is published.

Other topics discussed included the immediate priority of recovering cancer services from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, progress to establish an NHS Executive, and ensuring Wales is adopting new innovations in diagnostics and treatment at pace. We are grateful to the Minister for her time and members are looking forward to meeting with her again in September to further discuss the Cancer Services Action Plan and how we can ensure this delivers for people with cancer across Wales.

Response to publication of Welsh Government’s cancer quality statement

Issued 22 March 2021

Cancer care in Wales at risk without a new cancer strategy, warns the Wales Cancer Alliance

Wales’s cancer services could struggle to recover after the pandemic warn 20 leading cancer charities

Cancer services in Wales could struggle to recover after the coronavirus pandemic leading to poorer care and outcomes unless a new cancer strategy is put in place, 20 leading cancer charities are warning today.

Wales could soon be the only UK nation without a cancer strategywith the Welsh Government opting to publish a brief quality statement today (Monday 22 March) instead of replacing its detailed cancer plan.

This is despite stark and repeated warnings from the 20 charities in the Wales Cancer Alliance coalition that the statement does not go far enough.

While the alliance welcomes the NHS Covid recovery plan, also published today by the Welsh Government, this plan covers the immediate recovery from the pandemic and does not have the long-term vision cancer services in Wales needs.

At a time when cancer services are under more pressure than ever due to the pandemic, the alliance is concerned people in Wales will have poorer and less personalised cancer care without a comprehensive cancer strategy.

Until the end of 2020, Wales had a Cancer Delivery Plan which had ambitions for cancer care outcomes that matched the best in Europe. This led to new innovations being introduced, such as rapid diagnostic clinics for people experiencing non-specific symptoms that might be cancer.

The strategy, which was 21 pages, has been replaced by a quality statement that is around three pages long.

Most importantly, the quality statement lacks a clear roadmap for how cancer care can improve so that Wales can catch up with the best performing countries and, ultimately, save more lives.

The Wales Cancer Alliance does not believe this is a sufficiently detailed response to the current crisis in cancer care, nor does it point to a sufficiently bold ambition for cancer services in Wales.

Wales already performed worse on cancer compared to similar countries before the pandemic.

Macmillan Cancer Support estimates that 3,500 people[i] are living with undiagnosed cancer in Wales with the backlog in screening diagnostic services continuing to grow.

Richard Pugh, Chair of the Wales Cancer Alliance and Head of Partnerships at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Cancer services in Wales are under more

pressure than ever before due to cancellations and delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Today the 20 charities in the Wales Cancer Alliance are warning that Wales will shortly be the only UK country without a detailed cancer strategy at a time when we can least afford to be without one.

“We are urging the Welsh Government to replace its Quality Statement with a comprehensive cancer strategy that details how our NHS will tackle the growing backlog of people needing cancer diagnosis and care and set out how people with cancer in Wales can get the personalised and timely care they need to have the best possible outcome.

Andy Glyde, Vice Chair of the Wales Cancer Alliance and Senior External Affairs Manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “It is extremely disappointing that the Welsh Government has decided that a very short quality statement is enough to address some of the biggest problems facing cancer services and people affected by the disease in Wales.

“Right now, we need to see a bold and ambitious vision, where we aim to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, improve cancer services for people in Wales and ultimately save more lives. This document simply is not good enough.

“The World Health Organisation recommends that every country has a cancer strategy. In Wales, a plan like this would bring us into line with other, better performing nations. Together with other cancer charities, we strongly urge the Welsh Government to change its approach to fulfil this need.”

Martin Fidler Jones, Policy Officer at Tenovus Cancer Care, said “Since the start of the pandemic we have seen the number of people being sent for cancer tests fall to way below their normal levels, as people have stayed away from health services to protect the NHS.

“Early diagnosis is absolutely vital to long term survival. With thousands of people potentially living with undiagnosed cancer, we need a detailed, long term plan to get our cancer services back on track and enable us to build back better.

“Sadly, today’s publication from Welsh Government falls significantly short of our expectations as a charity and as a cancer sector.”

The Wales Cancer Alliance (WCA) is a coalition of 20 charities working to prevent cancer, improve care, fund research and influence policy in Wales.

The charities that make up the alliance are:

The Brain Tumour Charity

Breast Cancer Now

Bowel Cancer UK

British Liver Trust

Blood Cancer Alliance

Cancer Research Wales

Cancer Research UK

CLIC Sargent

Hospices Cymru

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust

Macmillan Cancer Support


Marie Curie

Ovarian Cancer Action

Myeloma UK

Pancreatic Cancer UK

Prostate Cancer UK

Target Ovarian Cancer

Teenage Cancer Trust

Tenovus Cancer Care

[i] Assumptions

Missed diagnoses

(1)        We assume there would have been 19,000 cancer diagnosis in 2020 if not for the pandemic. This is an estimate based on the trend of incidence in recent years (2015-2017 range between 18.9k – 19.6k) but it’s is not a projection.

(2)        We assume these diagnoses would have come about evenly across the calendar year, at around 1,583 diagnoses per month (19,000 / 12).

(3)        We assume that whatever level of change is observed to the number of people entering the SCP in a given month (as a result of the pandemic), that the same change will occur to the number of cancer diagnoses as a result. E.g. a 20% drop in number entering the SCP would see 20% fewer cancer diagnoses, or 317 fewer diagnoses (1,583 x 20%).


Missed diagnoses

•           We use the number of patients entering the SCP as reported in the monthly CWT reports from June 2019 onwards.

•           We create a ‘pre-pandemic baseline’ of the number entering SCP per working day, based on reported figures for June 2019 to Feb 2020. We see 118,871 patients in total across 191 working days = 622.4 entries per working day.

•           We sum up all of the corresponding counts for the period Mar – Nov 2020 (latest available data point) and find a total of 90,007 patients across 191 working days = 471.2 entries per working day.

•           We now compare entries during the pandemic period (471.2 per day) to the pre-pandemic period (622.4 per day) which gives us a figure of 24.3% fewer people entering during the pandemic period, specifically this period is the 9 months from March to November 2020.

•          As per the assumptions listed above, we estimate that there would have been 9 (months) x 1,583 (diagnoses per month) = 14,250 cancer diagnoses during this pandemic period. If 24.3% of these did not happen then our estimate of missing diagnoses becomes 3,460 or ‘around 3,500’.

Reaction to NHS Pressures statement

Issued: 10 December 2020

In response to the Welsh Government’s statement on NHS Pressures a spokesperson for the Wales Cancer Alliance said: “This is a worrying time for people living with cancer and those going through the process of receiving a diagnosis.

“We would strongly encourage anyone who is worried or has anxieties about their cancer treatment to speak directly with their clinical team.

“It is also important to remember that at this time the NHS in Wales is still open for business for those who need it most. If you or a loved one has new or persistent symptoms, do not hesitate to get in touch with your GP.

“These are clearly exceptional times. Health boards who feel they have no other choice but to take these exceptional measures and disrupt cancer treatment, must work on a regional basis with other boards to ensure safe and appropriate cancer treatment and diagnostics can take place and disruption is minimised, and is as brief as reasonably possible. It is also essential they provide clear communication to patients who may face any disruption.

“After the disruption caused to cancer services in the first wave of the pandemic, it’s important health boards and the Welsh Government learn what has worked well in ensuring cancer care can continue. This means utilising the independent sector and protected ‘green sites’ (Covid secure) to ensure people with cancer have access to the right treatment

“Our 20 cancer charities provide support to people living with cancer 365 days a year. To access support from our organisations please visit


Further queries: For further information, or to request interviews with a representative from the Wales Cancer Alliance in English or in Welsh, please contact [email protected]

A new era for healthcare after Covid-19

Dr Mark Taubert from Velindre Cancer Centre led the first Wales Cancer Alliance seminar on his work supporting people through the Coronavirus pandemic. You can watch the seminar in full here.

Nia Campbell and Adrian Ortega wrote specially for the Wales Cancer Alliance about the seminar and their reflections on what good communication means in a healthcare setting.

In the turbulent months since the start of the pandemic, there’s no denying the immense care and dedication of NHS, social services and charity staff nationwide. While the crisis has further exposed cracks in our health and social care services, it’s also accelerated changes that were already in motion. 

We can see clearly that many of our healthcare services have not been designed with the patient in mind. As much as we try to put patients at their centre, they haven’t been designed that way from the ground up. 

It’s not just health and social care but true of many public services. As Lou Downe says in Good services, “(…) we don’t design services, we let them happen by accident”. And now we see that the cracks in the system are larger than the band-aids we desperately apply to them.

Communication is an essential part of any service. It’s how we know, as users or patients, what to do, who to see, what happens next. But it’s also what makes us feel heard, supported and reassured.
Now, more than ever, it’s vital to reassess how we communicate and engage with each other. “The challenges of communication have upped their game,” palliative medicine consultant, Dr Mark Taubert said in a recent seminar for the Wales Cancer Alliance about his experiences of having difficult conversations with patients during coronavirus.

From the strange and disconcerting effects of PPE to delivering bad news over video, Dr Taubert believes we’ve entered a new era of communication. “We need new tools and we need new guidance”, he said, as someone on the ground dealing with disrupted services.

More empathetic communication 

Good communication in healthcare isn’t just what to say, but how and when to say it. It’s so much more than a cup of tea and sympathy. It’s the combination of empathy, delivery and timing.

They say there’s never a good time for bad news. For us, we were packing to go away on holiday the morning we were summoned to the hospital. By refusing to tell us biopsy result over the phone, the doctor confirmed it was bad news.

But instead of receiving the news from the comfort of our own home, we took a taxi to the hospital under great stress before being led to an Ikea-worthy family room and given a cup of tea to hear the words: breast cancer.

While the combination of a caring face-to-face interaction and a plan to manage expectations was vital, it was impossible not to feel a part of a staged scene, a surreal reality show. 

Detached and in shock, we were then (well-intentionally) overloaded with cancer brochures before even knowing the extent of the disease. The way people absorb and process information changes in times of stress, and we felt that we had no time to digest and ask questions that were relevant to us. 

Too often we hear similar stories of communication problems in healthcare: where impractical targets, time constraints and competing demands leave patients feeling unheard and misunderstood. Where word choices are triggering or disempowering, excluding or alienating the people that need to be reached. Where taking a little time to consider the tone and contents of a letter avoids causing distrust or a dead end.

Shouldn’t patient-centred care mean that we, as patients, have a say in how we receive information? Isn’t the ultimate act of empathy in health communication considering the patient and their needs to give them relevant information at the right time, in a way that’s easy to digest? 

And it’s not just about patients. In 2016, Marie Curie published a report arguing that poor communication in the NHS had a profound impact not only on patient care, but also on staff burnout and public funds. This call to action is four years old but more important than ever.

A better normal

We know there are major challenges ahead, especially in the world of cancer. Perhaps as we contemplate the future of these services after coronavirus, we need to rethink health communication altogether. We’ve moved at high speed from analogue to digital; we can see that there are better, more efficient and inclusive ways of working and communicating.

As Cancer Research Wales says in a recent blog, there’s an opportunity to establish not just a new normal, but a better normal.

As mammoth a task it may seem, there are small things we can all do to get started. Call out misinformation. Take the time to consider, test and review our information to make sure that it’s helpful and compassionate. Reassess and adjust our communications as patients’ needs change. Think about the words and language we use so that information is inclusive and accessible to everyone who needs it, leaving no one behind. Ask questions when we don’t have the answers, and get involved in conversations about conversations.

Because, at the end of the day, clear, relevant and empathetic communication is key to making services better and fairer for everyone.

Adrian Ortega and Nia Campbell are content designers and plain English advocates. They run Tidy Content, a small content design studio where they help socially-driven and value-oriented organisations communicate with clarity and empathy. They’re particularly interested in the language and messages of health and social care after their shared experiences of cancer.

Living well in isolation

This document has been produced by the Clinical Psychology team in Cardiff & Vale University Health Board.

A period of isolation will be challenging for everyone; but we hope these ideas may help to lessen the impact. They may not all be possible for everyone – use any of these suggestions which might be appropriate for you.

Activities and structure

  • Don’t listen to the news too frequently (or at all). Check up on news only once each day at most. Choose your information sources wisely in order to access accurate information.
  • Structure your day so that you have an activity to undertake each morning, afternoon and evening. Be kind to yourself and set manageable goals. It’s okay if you are unable to do everything you intend. You are likely to experience many distractions.
  • Keep to a routine with waking up and bedtimes. You can add to these routines by having a bath or shower in the mornings, and practice meditation or mindfulness before bed.
  • Watch or listen to programmes, audiobooks and podcasts. Do you have any favourite comedy sketches? Are there any light-hearted shows that bring you joy? Audible have made many titles of audiobooks freely available online:
  • Read a book that has been on the shelf waiting for attention.
  • Learn a new skill or hobby, or pick up an old hobby you used to enjoy doing. How about drawing, jigsaws, playing board games, or learning a language?
  • Explore the world from your home! has a livestream of 100 cameras from around the world so you can watch the northern lights, pandas, the Great Barrier Reef, and more.
  • If you have a garden, spend time out of doors. Even in colder weather, if you’re well, wrap up in coat and blanket and take a coffee break outside.
  • Go with the ‘flow’. Research suggests that when you are fully engaged in an activity, working at your own pace and making progress while being fully absorbed, you achieve a state of ‘flow’. Activities which induce flow will vary dependent on your interests; however, some people find activities such as painting, gardening, baking, knitting and woodwork can induce flow.
  • Take time to self-care. Schedule time for soothing activities. This could be a warm bath, a meditation of mindfulness practice, a few moments cuddled up under your favourite blanket, or petting the cat/dog. Anything that makes you feel calm, connected or cared-for counts.
  • Make time for spiritual practice if this is important to you. Whilst you cannot attend places of worship at the moment, think about setting aside time for prayer and meditation at home. Can you stay in contact with members of your congregation over the phone or via Skype? Skype could offer an opportunity for group prayer sessions too.
  • Take a virtual tour of a museum. There are many; some examples are:

Diet, health and exercise

  • Keep up movement and exercise.
    • Follow any advice you already have from a physiotherapist, your nurse or doctor
    • Even if you have fatigue, move about briefly out of a chair every hour. Look at this NHS advice on sitting exercises, but follow your own common sense about how much to do: well/exercise/sittingexercises
    • If you’re already fitter and want to keep up exercise, use the stairs as often as possible, do some simple exercises that you’re familiar with, or look for some on-line guidance. Remember, only as much as you feel comfortable doing.
  • If you are allowed, leave the house for exercise – e.g. if you do not need to be completely sheltered. Try to do this even if it is a short walk. Remember to observe the guidance around social distancing and keep 2m (6ft 6) away from another person, unless you live with them.
  • Try out an online class. Class providers such as yoga are offering online, scheduled classes at set times, which can also help with your routine and structure. Many of these are offering classes for free to try, or at reduced prices
  • Consider food supply options.
  • Try to buy only what you need for the coming week.
    • If you have concerns about accessing fresh food and supplies, consider how family or friends may be able to support you. There are many local businesses that may be able to provide free delivery of fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables. Many communities are also providing options for support so it may be helpful to connect with your local community online via platforms such as the ‘nextdoor’ app and local newspapers.
  • Spend time making fresh meals if you have the ingredients and energy. It takes more time than ready meals, and can add structure to the day.
    • Check up for ideas: type in a search for ingredients you already have at home, and a range of recipe ideas pops up. Try some new meals, cakes or even sweets.
  • Contact your medical team if you have questions or queries to do with any issues around your physical health and cancer treatment. Who in the team could you phone, e.g your CNS?


  • It can be difficult living in close proximity to others, but there is information about managing family relationships at home –
  • Support younger family members – there are options to guide self-care for young people online:
  • Make a regular phone-call to a neighbour or friend who may need support – they will be in need of hearing another voice. Try to talk about other things rather than coronavirus.
  • Ask others how much they would like to discuss coronavirus and let them know how much you want to talk about it. Some people find it helpful talking about the latest updates, other people find it overwhelming. Try to communicate what your needs are.
  • Think about creative ways of connecting with others. How about arranging a “cook along’ via FaceTime/Skype/Zoom with a friend or family member.  You could even cook the same meal and eat at the same time. Could you watch/listen to the same film or podcast at the same time and then text or chat on the phone about it afterwards? Or play games such as scrabble, chess etc against a relative or friend on- line. Are there any online groups or communities you could join who have shared interests?
  • There is online support available if you want to talk to someone. SilverLine is free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24/7: 0800 4708090.

Psychological wellbeing

  • Connect with friends and family; share your experiences.
  • Allow yourself space to process and make sense of how you are feeling about the covid-19 virus
    • Allow yourself time to worry (e.g. allocate yourself 15 minutes worry time, use a journal or diary to reflect on your experience and how you are feeling).
    • Notice how you are feeling and what you may be doing to help manage these feelings. Try to limit coping strategies that might be maladaptive in nature such as drinking alcohol or eating unhealthily. Use strategies which optimise your overall health and wellbeing.
  • Make a list of what you can and cannot control to help focus your energy.
  • Practice reflecting on good experiences. At the end of the day, reflec vt on three positive things that have happened each day – this could be anything at all, from receiving a text from a friend to enjoying a meal.
  • Try out some psychological resources involving ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and mindfulness
    • Download the ACT companion app: The app is available on android or ios. Enter the code TOGETHER on the subscription page to unlock all the app content free for three months until the end of June.
    • The Velindre Mindfulness app – an excellent  way to guide mindfulness practice; available free to download.
  • Think about your values or the activities that help give your life meaning. Ask yourself whether you could be doing more of these activities to help you manage during this period.
  • Create your own ‘self–isolation bag’. This     could include objects personal to you to help you manage and self soothe (e.g. your favourite scent, book, a jigsaw puzzle, hot water bottle, playlist).
  • It can be difficult to change habits, so keep using well-practiced, helpful strategies. Try to do them a bit more if you can.


Lastly, if you find that your low feelings are getting worse there is more specialised help available.

  • Contact your GP
  • Your GP can also refer you to your local primary mental health service for more specialised support.
  • The Samaritans provide free confidential emotional support to anyone experiencing feelings distress or despair including those that may lead to suicide: 08457 909090 (open 24/7).
  • Community Advice and Listening Line is a free confidential listening and emotional support service for people in Wales: 0800 132737 (open 24/7).
  • Mind Infoline offers free confidential help on a range of mental health issues: 0300 123 3393 (Monday- Friday, 9am-5pm).

Don’t sit on cancer symptoms during coronavirus outbreak

Don’t sit on cancer symptoms during coronavirus outbreak

Monday 27 April 2020

Wales’s leading cancer charities are urging people with cancer symptoms to see their doctor as GPs warn the coronavirus outbreak is keeping people with these symptoms away.

The 20 charities in the Wales Cancer Alliance are asking people to see their GP as usual if they have concerning symptoms such as changes to their body, unexplained lumps or bleeding and coughs which don’t go away after three weeks.

Their warning comes as many GPs in Wales report a worrying drop in the number of people who are seeing them with suspected cancer symptoms.

Clinicians are reporting a 75 per cent drop in urgent cancer referrals in Wales since the coronavirus outbreak started.

Doctors are urging people with new or changing symptoms which could be cancer to see their GP.

GP and Macmillan GP Advisor Elise Lang said: “In general practice we are working hard to adapt our usual processes in order to keep our patients COVID19 free.

“We are definitely still working but we are working in a new way.

“If you are worried about any new or changing symptom, I would ask you to contact your GP surgery and let us call you and work through the symptoms together and decide what is needed.

“We ask that you stay home and stay safe but seeing your primary care team may be an essential journey.”

Many GP surgeries are now offering appointments over the phone or virtually, which can be accessed easily and securely on a smartphone through a link.

When people need to be seen in person, GP staff may be wearing personal protection equipment to maintain safety.

Richard Pugh, Chair of the Wales Cancer Alliance and Head of Partnerships for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said: “While these are exceptional circumstances, speedy diagnosis of cancer continues to be of utmost importance.

“Although many people referred for tests won’t have cancer, it’s vital symptoms are investigated as soon as possible. there’s a risk the current crisis could become a longer-term cancer crisis.

“We want people to know their GP surgery is open and staff want to hear from them if they have any symptoms.”

The Wales Cancer Alliance is a coalition of 20 charities working together to prevent cancer, improve care, fund research and influence policy in Wales. Member organisations are:

  • Brain Tumour Trust
  • Breast Cancer Now
  • Bowel Cancer UK
  • British Liver Trust
  • Blood Cancer Alliance
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Cancer Research Wales
  • Clic Sargent
  • Hospices Cymru
  • Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust
  • Macmillan Cancer Support
  • Maggie’s
  • Marie Curie
  • Ovarian Cancer Action
  • Myeloma UK
  • Pancreatic Cancer UK
  • Prostate Cancer UK
  • Target Ovarian Cancer
  • Teenage Cancer Trust
  • Tenovus Cancer Care

The Wales Cancer Alliance has a page on its website with helpful resources, information and support for people living with cancer in Wales –

Home Isolation & Shielding

Updated 27 March 2020

Home isolation, shielding and coronavirus

If you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus, you will need to stay at home for up to 14 days. 

The Welsh Government has also asked people to self-isolate for up to 12 weeks if they have been identified as a greater risk. If you are in this category, the NHS will directly contact you with advice about the more stringent measures you should take in order to keep yourself and others safe. They will also tell you about the support available for home isolation. If you are worried you are in this group and you are not contacted, you should speak to your healthcare team.

It’s important to stay up-to-date with advice provided by the Welsh government and the NHS. Here are links to the latest information about staying at home:

We understand that home isolation isn’t easy. This page has advice we hope will help.

What is home isolation?

Home isolation means staying at home to stop the spread of coronavirus, or to reduce your risk of contracting it. 

According to advice from the NHS, this means you shouldn’t:

  • go to work, school or public areas
  • use public transport or taxis
  • have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home
  • go to buy food or collect medicine.

You are able to use your garden, if you have one. Please make sure you’re following the latest advice from GOV.WALES.

Preparing for home isolation

You might be feeling worried about home isolation. Being prepared will hopefully help ease some of your concerns. We recommend that you:

  • Think about what you will need in order to be able to stay at home for the full 7 to 14 days.
  • Think about and plan how you can get food and other supplies such as medications that you will need during this period.
  • Ask friends, family of your employer if they can drop off anything you need while you’re in home isolation.
  • Plan in advance what you will do if someone in your household were to feel much worse, such as having difficulties breathing.
  • If you order supplies online, make sure they are left outside your home for you to collect.

It’s understandable you may be feeling more anxious. We have prepared a list of organisations providing emotional and practical help.

Cancer and Coronavirus Q&A


If you have cancer, you might be worried about how coronavirus affects you. The most important thing is to follow the advice from the NHS and your healthcare team.

People with cancer may be at a higher risk of infection, so please follow the advice that will help reduce the risk of getting coronavirus (COVID-19). This page includes advice and information from Public Health Wales and GOV.WALES

It’s understandable that people with cancer may be feeling more anxious. We have prepared a list of organisations providing emotional and practical help.

Following new guidance issued by the UK government on Sunday 22nd March, we have updated our information.

Do I need to do anything differently as someone who is being treated / in remission from cancer / living with a chronic cancer?

Some people with cancer are more at risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract the COVID-19 infection:

  • people having chemotherapy, or who have received chemotherapy in the last three months;
  • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer;
  • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors;
  • people having intensive (radical) radiotherapy for lung cancer;
  • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs;
  • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment.

If you are in this category, you should review the advice from Welsh Government on shielding here. If you fall into the category requiring shielding, you will be directly contacted by the NHS with advice about the more stringent measures you should take in order to keep yourself and others safe.

What will happen to my cancer treatment?

For example:

  • Will it be postponed?
  • Should I still go to hospital appointments?
  • How will my hospital decide whether I am a priority for treatment? Will there be national rules?
  • Should I start chemotherapy treatment (particularly if it is a 2nd/3rd line for “mop up”) or postpone?
  • If I get the virus and recover, will this affect my cancer treatment and outlook?

Your clinician may want to review your treatment plans, including whether the risks involved in any treatment have changed. In some cases, this may lead to a discussion about a revised or modified treatment plan. This is because the risks and benefits of certain treatments may be different in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) risk

Many hospitals have started to use more telephone consultations as a way of helping people to avoid long waits in clinics and for treatment. You may be called to arrange your treatments in this way, and planned treatments may need to be moved to help with running a smooth service.

Your clinical team are best placed to talk with you about the effect on your treatment and appointments.  They will work with you to determine the best course of action in each individual situation.  If you have any concerns or questions about your treatment, please speak to your clinical team.

I am on chemotherapy, if I experience sweats / cough / shivering, should I call NHS 111 or the chemotherapy care line?

The advice in this situation is to immediately contact the chemotherapy care line, the Acute Oncology Service at your treating hospital or whatever number you were given by your team in the event of an urgent query. The important thing is to get urgent medical advice.

Home isolation

Please visit GOV.WALES website for guidance on home isolation.

Current government guidelines suggest those who need to home isolate are:

  • People with symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus (COVID-19) and do not require hospital treatment.
  • Those living in households with someone who shows symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus (COVID-19).

If I need to self-isolate, what will happen in relation to treatment that has to be done weekly?

Your clinical team are best placed to talk with you about the effect on your treatment and appointments.  They will work with you to determine the best course of action in each individual situation.

There is extended guidance on staying at home if you or someone in your household think you have coronavirus.

Advice for when staying at home

Staying at home will help control the spread of the virus to friends, the wider community, and particularly the most vulnerable. The following may make it easier:

  • Plan ahead and think about what you will need in order to be able to stay at home for the full 7 or 14 days.
  • Think about and plan how you can get food and other supplies such as medications that you will need during this period.
  • Ask friends, family or your employer if they can drop off anything you need.
  • If you order supplies online, make sure these are left outside your home for you to collect.
  • Keep in touch with friends, family and work colleagues over the phone or through social media.
  • Think about things you can do during your time at home. People who have successfully completed a period of staying at home have kept themselves busy with activities such as cooking, reading, online learning and watching films.
  • Plan in advance what you will do if someone in your household were to feel much worse, such as have difficulties breathing.
  • Find some exercises you can do at home – If you go out to exercise you will need to keep a safe distance (two metres) from other people.
  • If you are an employee and unable to work due to coronavirus, please refer to this guidance from the Department for Work and Pensions to find out about the support that is available to you.
  • Staying at home for a prolonged period can be difficult, frustrating and lonely for some people and that you or other household members may feel low. It can be particularly challenging if you don’t have much space or access to a garden.
  • It’s important to remember to take care of your mind as well as your body and to get support if you need it. Stay in touch with family and friends over the phone or on social media. There are also sources of support and information that can help, such as the Every Mind Matters website.

Caring for people with cancer

I am a carer to someone with cancer. Should I be doing anything differently?

If you provide essential care (such as help with washing, dressing, or preparing meals), you may find this guidance on Home care provision useful.

I have been exposed to the virus and am a carer for someone with cancer. What should I do? Who will look after the person I care for if I am unable to?

The Welsh Government is currently advising that if you have symptoms and you live with a vulnerable person, you should try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.

If you provide essential care (such as help with washing, dressing, or preparing meals), you may find this guidance on Home care provision useful.

It is also a good idea to think about what happens if you become unwell. If you need help with care but you’re not sure who to contact, or if you do not have family or friends who can help, you can contact your local council who should be able to help you. Carers UK have also produced advice for those currently caring for others.

The Future

Will cancer patients be a priority for the vaccine if/when it is developed?

There is currently no vaccine for this form of coronavirus. Research is being done to develop a vaccine, but this will take many months.

The best way to reduce your chance of infection is to follow the NHS advice on reducing the risk of picking up infections including thoroughly washing your hands frequently, practicing good hygiene and avoiding contact with people who are unwell.

Will there be problems accessing my cancer drugs?

There are currently no medicine shortages as a result of COVID-19. The country is well prepared to deal with any impacts of the coronavirus and we have stockpiles of generic drugs like paracetamol in the event of any supply issues.

The Government is working closely with industry, the NHS and others in the supply chain to ensure patients can access the medicines they need, and precautions are in place to prevent future shortages.

There is no need for patients to change the way they order prescriptions or take their medicines. Patients should always follow the advice of doctors, pharmacists or other prescribers who prescribe and dispense their medicines and medical products. The NHS has tried-and-tested ways of making sure patients receive their medicines and medical products, even under difficult circumstances. If patients order extra prescriptions, or stockpile, it will put pressure on stocks, meaning that some patients may not get the medicines or medical products they need.

A regularly updated list of cancer charities providing support can be found here.

Support for people living with cancer

Updated 4 February 2021

Help and information for people living with cancer

The Wales Cancer Alliance is a group of 20 cancer charities working together to make things better for people affected by cancer and their loved ones. The current pandemic of Covid-19 is no doubt making many feel worried and anxious, to support you through this we’ve produced a list of organisation’s whose support lines and information can really help.

You might want to just have a chat with a listening ear, find out more about benefits and financial support or you might have a question about your cancer that’s unrelated to Covid-19. The important thing is to know that we are there, and we are all working together to support you.

Macmillan Cancer Support

0808 808 00 00

8am-8pm everyday

Marie Curie

0800 090 2309

8am-6pm weekdays, 11am-5pm Saturdays

Bowel Cancer UK

Ask the Nurse Online Support

Prostate Cancer UK

0800 074 8383

9am-5pm Monday-Friday

Myeloma UK

0800 980 3332

9am-5pm weekdays

[email protected]

Information hub

The Brain Tumour Charity

0808 800 0004

9am-5pm weekdays

[email protected]

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust

0808 802 8000 Opening hours vary


0808 208 0888

10am-4pm weekdays, 10am-1pm Wednesdays

Pancreatic Cancer UK

0808 801 0707 10am-4pm Monday to Friday or via email.

Kidney Cancer UK

01223 870008

9am-4pm weekdays, 4pm-6pm weekends

Online support available

Brain Tumour Support

Support Group Video Chats using Zoom

Dedicated Support Line available 9am-5pm Monday-Friday for friendly help and guidance – 01454 422701

Facebook Support Forum

Specialist Counselling

Maggie’s Centre

Support online, over the phone and via video chat.

0300 123 1801 (UK Support line)

9am-5pm weekdays

Local support –

Maggie’s Cardiff (at Velindre Cancer Centre) 029 2240 8024 [email protected]

Maggie’s Swansea (at Singleton Hospital) 01792 200 000/ [email protected]

Tenovus Cancer Care

0808 808 1010

9am-5pm weekdays, 10am-1pm weekends

Breast Cancer Now

0808 800 6000

10am-3pm weekdays

Cancer Research UK

0808 800 4040

9am-5pm weekdays

Target Ovarian Cancer

020 7923 5475

9am-5:30pm, weekdays

British Liver Trust

0800 652 7330

10am-2.45pm weekdays (Not on bank holidays)

[email protected]

Online support group

Clic Sargeant

Online Live Chat 10am-4pm Monday to Friday and Facebook Groups

Ray of Light Wales

Online support, emails, telephone and Skype throughout the month. Facebook page here.

Old Mill Foundation

01792 851553

Via email

Blood Cancer UK

Information and support Online community

Support line available 10am-7pm Monday-Friday/ 10am-1pm Saturday-Sunday- 0808 2080 888

If you have any questions about the content on this page, please contact: Jon Antoniazzi, Policy & Public Affairs Manager, Wales for Macmillan Cancer Support – [email protected]