The impact of Covid-19 on our cancer patients


The impact of covid 19 has changed our world and our lives forever. When you think about it, getting diagnosed with cancer and undergoing cancer treatment is hard enough, without the significant impact of the covid 19 pandemic. Our cancer patients need support more than ever.

The majority of our cancer support groups are NPO’s (non profit organisations). They rely heavily on funding to be able to continue to support cancer patients. Covid 19 has certainly thrown the cat amongst the pigeons as the majority of funding is now being directed to the fight on Covid 19. Placing severe strain on our NPO’s.

In our very fractured public health care system cancer patients face many barriers. Covid 19 has certainly increased these barriers even more. Transport alone to get to your treatment is normally difficult for the majority of our people. Restricted travel and less public transport has an enormous impact on patients getting to treatment. Delayed cancer treatment is the norm in normal times in our public health system but even more so with covid 19. Patients lives are at risk.

At the Helen Joseph Hospital Breast Care Centre our breast patients receive excellent support, from the Breast Health Foundation’s trained oncology patient navigators. One week before lock down our patients were already being triaged by the Doctor’s, and the less serious cases were being told to go home and come back in 3 months time. It was hard and sad to see the fear and concern in these patients eyes, when you think you may have cancer yet you cannot receive immediate treatment.

The psychological impacts are enormous. Trying to figure out how bad your cancer is. Petrified they will catch covid 19. Anxiety of the cancer spreading. Anxiety of isolation and the loneliness of lock down at home. Changes to treatment plans or not getting treatment. Uncertainty can breed more fear. Cancer patients need even more support during this crazy covid time. Our Breast Health Foundation navigators continue to offer support online or telephonically. Please consider helping our Cancer Alliance NPO’s (CANSA) so that we can help support our patients¬†

Nicole Fuller
Author: Nicole Fuller

I am a former elite/springbok distance runner, Oncology Patient Navigator, Breast Cancer Exercise training specialist, speaker and Breast Cancer Survivor