Cancer And The New Normal
What does it mean to be living with cancer during a global pandemic? Hello I'm moab welcome to talking cancer. You might have listened to series of the podcast this year when I met with some really extraordinary people to have honest conversations about living with cancer. Well, things have changed little since we last met I. Think it's fair to say and at times it feels like we're living in a new world entirely. That's why McMillan have teamed up with boots bring you a very special corona virus series talking cancer to address some of your most common concerns around living with cancer. During the global pandemic, you need to feel empowered you need to look after yourself to would. You mind if my loved one who's in the car park on speakerphone all you know you can ask to record the consultation discussing it with your doctor or consultant and asking the questions. There are often options that you won't think of today joined by Mellon's chief medical officer. Rosie. Leftist and boots is chief Pharmacist Mark Donovan to talk about the services available practical advice. You'll need to navigate this new normal with cancer. With McMillan and we're talking cancer. Rosie mark it's lovely to have you with us. Really Nice to have you along. Now we're recording this on the eleventh of September Twenty Twenty and a specific about the date because lots of people are trying to give people some answers when the god is feels like it's coming from a frequently changing landscape sometimes on a daily basis. So let's start at what is the beginning of many people's experience with cancer we know. We know because lots of people getting in touch with Macmillan at the moment because they're either being diagnosed with cancer over the phone or receiving information about treatment vibraphone phone, and that must be incredibly hard to take in when you don't have a loved one or a care with you for support Rosie I'm going to start with you. What kind of advice can you give people who are preparing to potentially receive information about a diagnosis? Or treatment difficult treatment over the phone. Yeah. Thanks summer. As you say, you know we've had a huge number of calls to all support line about their son. You know as we all know receiving a diagnosis of cancer is frightening in the best of times you know it turns your world upside down in in a matter of seconds. But when you add on the extra precious of what's happening in the world at the Moment, with covert, this just amplifies all those feelings. So you know at a time when you're thinking, you're gonNA be receiving diagnosis. You might not actually have your head in a space where you might be able to think about some practical things I am but actually patience Taylor's that some of these things are really really helpful and sometimes actually give them that feeling of being able to take a bit of sense of control back. So I think some of the top tips we heard from people are you know making sure that you've got yourself a quiet uncomfortable space some people will be in house shares. So you know also do you need it to be confidential planning ahead for someone to be with you and again patients of told us that actually sometimes actually doing this in their own home has increased the opportunity for them to have somebody with. Them I'm right down you questions and you queries and what it is, you want to hear from from the consultation and really small thing. But actually again, lots of people said it to as is that an when hospitals phone, sometimes it will come up as one of those withheld numbers I am also used to those nuisance calls at home, but you do recognize that might be the case so that you don't miss the call. Ask them if it's possible for you to record it and remember the other person at the end of the phone, they can't see you. So they don't know how you feeling in response to what they're saying they don't know what you're hearing and actually what your understanding. So if you have questions, you don't understand stuff do feel free do feel empowered to us for that clarity mark from the pharmacy world's perspective it must've been imas be a very challenging time. For you to be able to keep track and keep up with the changing landscape and the recommendations has it been a challenge you to stay helpful to people receiving diagnosis in this time? Yes I. Think it is difficult. We understand people are anxious both for themselves for their families we have stayed open on high streets. Of course. I. Been Able to provide advice for people who are affected by Sandoz who accounting for people who are affected by cancer. and. We. Are. Navigating. A, new will to both of you have mentioned in the new normal this new world and you know I know as a former GP rosie video consultations of false becoming the new normal and that I may not has its own stresses you mentioned confidentiality. You know there's I'd be wary about that possibly But also you know there are lots of people that really aren't very tight tech savvy of the might be super stressed about setting is opposition light this all right through to kind of being able to. Talk. To somebody intimately a GP over zoom colored or a phone call about symptoms I'm Rosie. What she? What's your advice? How can you reassure people that that this might not be quite as invasive and traumatic as it sounds it's been an absolute sea change You know in a way of consulting I mean many of us. You know as you said, I'm a former GP for thirty years and I've been using telephoning in consultations for quite some time but but you know I in specific instances for specific. Circumstances. But the scale of the change in the way that we're we're consulting of the speed it's happened as just being as you say, quite quite phenomenal and it's a new way for all of us and I think we're really learning which treading carefully and there's no one size fits all you know. Some people have told US actually that they've quite appreciated the access to the GP on the efficiency and that it gives them but it's not gonNA work every body and it's really important. That people find their individual way. The video adds another layer onto that and I'm certainly not the most tech savvy person in the world you know I'd get a youngster from my house to help with that you might want to do a dry run with a friend. Am even I'm and I think it's still also really important to say that if it's not working for you, you need to tell the clinician it's not working for you. You need to feel empowered to say that but definitely feel okay to say look there are things I need. To feel I need to see your face to face at might we're working on actually on some top ten tips and we're working together with both patients and professionals so that we don't make it assumptions about what is working for people. I'm and we're hoping to put those on the website ready very shortly. So and do lookout for those have sounds up city perfect market I. Mean you know I it's coming to tragic cost obviously with key with covert and the pandemic are you seeing any benefits in in store with foams from having time? To speak to people, are there any upsides in in your world or I think Rosie said the way patients interact with? GP's and other healthcare professionals has changed quite dramatically patients can access the GP. Practice a slightly different way and and I think that has provided opportunities for pharmacists and GP's to work together and we would want to encourage that So so at GP's refer people into pharmacy, send their prescriptions, electrically how Aska pharmacy teams to provide at further advice or oh at feedback 'em into the GP. At practice some of the interactions away having through pharmacy teams on the High Street of course, and. During the heater pandemic, am we launched online boots, McMillan Information Pharmacy Service we have over two thousand boots, McMillan Information Pharmacists The can advise on a day to day basis. Any matter and we will work closely with Macmillan to refer them into the Macmillan website and support lines to and the boots McMillan Information Pharmacy scheme where we have over two thousand information pharmacies in our stores and over lockdown, we've launched an online boots information pharmacists service. Hosted by shielding pharmacists where people can make an appointment either through dot com forward slash McMillan or through the Macmillan support line and talk to some of our pharmacists online about their concerns about the support that they can get through pharmacy teens and where to find other support. As they go through their experience with Cancer Rosie. Can you maybe I'll give some clarity as well. on if you all going to appointments is there a? Rule at the moment about being able to take somebody with you or not or or that differ from from center to center hospital to hospital. Yeah. Really important point and again something we're being fed back on a on a regular basis because in in the main it is still the hospitals are saying that actually they don't want people coming through the doors that. Don't absolutely need to be there. However, of course, all hospital buildings are set up slightly differently. So you know that the the way that you enter them and the route that you take might vary depending on the location, and so it may well be that in some circumstances, those rules are slightly laxer, but in the main, it is the case you know I had. A friend who visited a hospital recently again, she was really worried about this situation, and then actually when she got to the consultation that was the opportunity to say look, would you mind if I put my loved one who's in the cop on speakerphone so that they can be part of it or you know you can ask to record the consultation or actually then also say again, I talked about millions cancer specialists who may be there and involved in that conversation and it. May Well, be that you could say you know, would you be happy to speak to my relatives have managed to take everything in that? You said to me today I'm an ask one tip is also just to make sure that when you're in that appointment, just make sure if there are any of these annoying bureaucratic consent rules that you have actually completed those so that actually not one will be able to talk to the professionals just picking up on that as well. Rosy. In those those guidance that that guidance information that you're likely to get when an appointment is booked for you. Would explain there as well what you should or should not have been doing. With regard to shielding measures or isolation measures before going into an appointment absolutely, and the most important messages that whatever information is sent to you for your individual appointment that you make sure you follow that because nobody wants the fact that your care your treatment couldn't be delivered because you haven't followed the guidance and the guidance will vary depending on where you're going what you're going full I am so obviously going to be staying in hospital and having. You know having treatments interventions. It may will be have to have a Cova test seventy two hours before may well be that when you come home, you also have to self isolate but I can't am I can't say highly enough how important it is you follow the guidance that is given to you for your individual appointment. Balk when you get a cancer diagnosis, there's new language there is new. Structure There's new retains as new buildings, this new doctors and faces and then as now new guidances we've been talking that changes on a daily basis is a huge amount to take on board. And I think as well. There are people who've understandably very wary about being outside in the public going to the pharmacy to pick up whatever they're picking up being in hospitals. What's what's your advice to somebody who sees this and just goes? This is only bit scary for me. While I understand it scariest part of my job to keep up with the guidance on today basis I really struggle with it to be honest It's really difficult so for. You know I understand the anxiety understand the nervousness everybody has a bit of that as rosy said hospitals and GP practices of of change to make it a significantly safer an enough Agassi's we've made significant changes to a for it to be safer to access as well and it's OK touring up. Ahead of the appointment understand the changes that you'll see and how you can prepare a that. Fall that. Appointment as well where he had to help a make you. As comfortable as possible and an, every healthcare professional will aim to do that. So I ask questions get prepared. Talk and share how you're feeling an people will be able to support you and I know with my GPA now reprieve prescriptions and online ordering of medications, and there's some delivery systems as well. So they're all they're all structures around. Aren't they you know which don't which means you don't have to go into a busy high street and a busy stole to be able to keep up with your medication to keep up with the information that you're you're supposed to be receiving. Yes, and we'll help will help people in in whatever way we? Come. Every pharmacist will do that I'm sure on every pharmacy team. So whatever is right for you. If you nervous, we can deliver the prescriptions to you. We can have the prescriptions transferred automatically from the GP at to a pharmacy on the High Street unsorted from there. We can also talk over the phone or indeed online for any questions you have about your medication to. So there are solutions mouth. That's great to hear just had in terms from you know obviously, this also support from Millen I'm quite early on in the pandemic will also. Set up a befriending scheme and you can look at the website to to see this this office you know connecting with someone who tried to match people. So the telephone buddy scheme and you'll get contact over twelve week period my dad. As being self isolating since about nineteen ninety two. But. That's decision he just didn't like people mostly. So yes, everybody is different. You did mention no market. It was really important. Glad. You've bought their that up. And this is wrapped up with mental health as well. Is that it is I. Guess at this time when you get a very overwhelming piece of news and they're all restrictions are changing on a daily basis, it would be quite easy to sort of retreat Rosie, the the benefits of staying active and communicating. However you do that I'm sure can't be underestimated absolutely I mean. I. Think we all know don't we the benefits staying active for all of? US an actually you know when you've got a significant illness, actually the benefits of exercise both for your physical and your mental wellbeing, and so for people who've had a constant diagnosis waiting to go through treatment or going through treatment actually keeping up your physical emotional strength is just absolutely vital and they're all things you can do without. We always say you don't have to jump up and down in Lycra um they're all things that you can still. Do within your own house but you know actually this is this a part on our Cova. Toubon on minimum website the actually talks about after yourself at the moment there is a video on their actually sometimes people are really worried about what is it safe for me to do people actually think maybe they do need to sit on the city 'cause they're going to do themselves some harm. So number one if you worried check in with your healthcare team and you pharmacists Just to reiterate, there are simple things you can do within within the whole and it's it's really vital that you do that and keep up your strength. Questions About Cancer Beats Mcmillan a by your side for the moment to diagnosed through your treatment and beyond our beats. McMillan intimation pharmacists are on hand when specialists support from helping you make sense of your diagnosis to advice about living with cancer you combine them in your local boots pharmacy or online via video appointment visit beets dot com for wit slash McMillan for more information subject to pharmacist availability. Now. We've talked a lot about people getting in touch with Macmillan because they've been diagnosed with cancer over the phone or had to attend appointments on their own, and we've got a short clip from an amazing woman called. Ruth who was diagnosed with breast cancer during lockdown just weeks after her little girl was born. She's got some tips for others who are in the same position as her. I everyone. I'm raith and I was diagnosed with breast cancer in. April. This year during the coronavirus Lobstein. It's difficult getting diagnosis during this point, not being able to take somebody with me, but it was a few tips that I find through the way that really helps. Me fastly if you're going into an appointment on your rain I, find it really useful to see if you could have someone joining on a coal radio and put them on speakerphone in the room I found this radio east for for moral support. But also bringing somebody else in that process Wiki, and then they're also able to take questions, take notes and the Perez when you getting a lot of information in what cases. Secondly, if you got an infra surgery find out whether against go into the tastes room fast or if you're actually walking straight into the operating better mentally preparing. Yourself for the latter can need a little bit more of thought and visualization just to get into that right head space walking yourself into an operating. Thirdly, take a good book or TV, shows to watch when you're on your own waiting really does help pass the time and then the final got ready is a lot of hospitals have security on the doors at the moment to limit the number of people going through. So give yourself time to get yourself into security in through with an appointment latter or tax just to help running as you go into your appointments and hyper guys. Of course. So many people are going through difficult situations like ruth, many of been writing into the Macmillan Support Line Rosie Mog we've been working through some of the most common questions coming through to Matt Millen Support Line but lots of people concerned about delays to treatment or two tests. which might not diagnose them with cancer treatment cycles being shortened. So what are your? What are your words of wisdom to give people who are worrying about those things? Will you right seeing more and more people come into pharmacies with a concern in symptoms relieved that they haven't been able to access? The GP your consultant and and clearly we would encourage them to do an I've had personal experience of this actually over the lockdown period my father-in-law sadly has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer at during lockdown. Yeah and put for weeks and weeks and weeks It turns out he was ignoring these important symptoms and in talking to him, he was thinking that the GP's closed we've already talked about that they haven't been and and Rosie was saying that is more appointments available after people to talk to their GP. Thought that they were too busy or. In fact, he was not allowed to go outside because he's he's over eighty but. when when we got to the place where he could access some of the support that is available, I was really impressed with how it was handled. You know the GP in the referral he had to have some Cova test before going into some of the appointments to have scans. Results over the phone like we've been talking about and. Then, talk into consultant about the plan of action and a discussion of. Go for treatment now whether to delayed a bit later, you know an an unease east autism treatment for for it but. I'm I'm fascinated by how many people who perhaps would ignore those symptoms which are really vitally important to raise and getting support. The healthcare system is still working and. There's no real delay getting access to what is normally then infect as rosy said earlier it can be quite efficient and quick But this clearly lots of anxiety, but you need to take the conversations about all options Radian all action plans. and An iding courage people who perhaps I think should I delay treatment or worrying about? How you can. Manage the treatment that currently in you know you have to make a decision which is right for you. Reading important and discussing it with your doctor or consultant and ask the questions being prepared like Rosie said, idiot and get an all the information together. I think that they're often options that you won't think of others will, and I think that's really important. I'm really glad that you brought that up actually mark and we wish your father in law a speedy and healthy journey. So rosy mark mentioned their you know a very personal decision. So some some people who have been going through diagnosis and treatment have had to make tough decisions about whether to continue or whether to to hold back and wait until it is inverted commas safer for them to do so. How is mark talked briefly about how can you add to how people best way up what's best for them? In that situation we all learning all the time we're learning much more about covert was certainly learning a lot as number of academic people up and down the country to enrich clever staff, and I'm learning about the interaction of covert and cancer and what is. Safer, what treatments are an aunt and safe to continue their all plans now for restoration recovery and all of the four UK nations and so were influencing you know our very own chief executive lender has has had direct conversations with my hand coke I'm about this. So we influencing at the top level and we're working with the workforce you ought tirelessly I am endeavouring to. Get as many treatments back online. But again, coming back to what Mark said. It is about those individual conversations about what is best for you and those conversations you and your healthcare team no yourself best and that's where to have those conversations. As you know with a cancer diagnosis, there is the individual, but there are partners children. Why the Family In this time what what's out there for people who are trying to support their loved ones I know Rosie, you can probably help with this as well. It's tough being a care isn't it I'm I'm for the first thing I say you need to look after yourself to, and there's definitely support out there. If you haven't found it yet, you know McMillan support line is a balloon resource and the website is a brilliant resource to but family members loved ones. You need to be a strong and be able to share the online community groups in an L. McMillan website, which you can gain support and strength from and talking to people about it is really important in our pharmacies through our boots. Mcmillan Information Pharmacists are an teams. We often talk to the carers actually rather than the people who are directly affected by cancer. The CARE is perhaps haven't been in the conversation need to understand a little bit more about what at treatments are and what these medicines mean so that they can ask questions where he had to help but I'm sure. Other healthcare providers are there to help to but it's important to look after yourself rosy. It's a relevant question I think in a relevant subject for us to end on. So there have been so many changes to the guidance enrolls Where's the first place? Where should people turn if they're really still not sure what measures them themselves in their family need to take a particular part of the minimum website which is corona virus hub, and we try to respond to the content on there in response to the questions that come through the support line I'm won't and. Dating on a very regular basis. However, we do also make sure that we've got the Gulf Dot UK links on there because you know sometimes as we now announcements made on a Saturday evening and again, coming back to you and your individual care be guided by your healthcare teams and the information that is being sent to you about any specifics and that relate to you. and. So I I think those would be the things that I would suggest in in terms of making sure that you have got absolutely the right information that is personalized for you. Rosie Mark Thank you so unbelievably helpful I really you know there's so much in there to take away it's been a pleasure speaking to you both take care. Thank you. Thanks. Thanks summer. Thanks again to rosy mark for taking the time to speak with me today for more information on the topics discussed in this episode, make sure you head tone website, McMillan dot org dot, UK food slash talking cancer for resources advice and support. It's also where you can find out more about donating to Macmillan in our next episode talking about managing your mental health through the pandemic subscribe. If you'd like to hear that an every new episode whenever it's ready and if you enjoy the series, why not give it a rating or a review, it helps others find the podcast more easily I'm GonNa be and talking cancer is Macmillan cancer support.