[CANCER] Coping with the Coronavirus when you are ‘vulnerable’, ‘high risk’ … and overseas #COVID19 #BusyLivingWithMets

It’s like the world has a MAJOR case of Scanxiety … the feeling that the other foot is just about to drop, huge amounts of uncertainty about what happens next, interrupted sleep… and, like cancer, swiftly having to get the hang of a new language – who knew what ‘social distancing’ was last month?!

And this piece from ‘Good Morning Britain’ around now (also, keep an eye on fact-checking sites):

I’ve been really impressed with how swiftly the cancer charities got together to offer advice with ‘One Voice Cancer’, and Live Better With has been collecting useful resources for cancer patients. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for those looking after us and one has written on the impact that #COVID19 is having upon cancer care (potentially leading to ‘indirect deaths’ – those who should have been able to be treated, but the hospitals are over-capacity). Obviously we’re hearing lots about students missing out on exams/end of term, and people missing out on holidays, but if you cancer is incurable/terminal – the delayed event may never be reached:

The emotional consequences of all of this for people with cancer cannot be underestimated. Nor can the emotional consequences on healthcare professionals working in oncology: we will be making difficult, life-changing treatment decisions without good evidence. We will be counselling against treatments we would normally recommend. We will, no doubt, see some patients die sooner, not because of coronavirus but because we are not able to treat their cancers as we would normally.

We will be watching patients, for whom perhaps this is their last summer, shut themselves off from the world, unable to do what they want to do with the time they have left. We will be watching patients go through cancer with fewer visitors, less contact with friends and families, and very possibly inferior treatments. And we will, in all likelihood, be keeping away from older people we love, to avoid passing on infection to them. Guardian 19/3/20

I thought I’d come to terms with being ‘close to death’ last year, when ‘our delusions of invulnerability have been shattered‘, ensuring will, power of attorney, and some funeral planning all in place (hopefully won’t be needed for years, but watching friends dying…). I’m getting frustrated at myself for the constant feeling of anxiety and mental trauma that I’m in, but Natalie wrote some sensible content re traumatic responses, and the Huff Post has a good article.

Trying to keep myself centred by breaking the day down into chunks (mostly in between meal breaks), making sure I get in the sea every day, keeping lots of fresh air … and most importantly – using social media (if you remember, I said before, I don’t know how anyone coped with cancer before Netflix/Facebook), my mum had her first go on Skype with me earlier this week, and looking forward to an online conversation with my cousins on Sunday morning! I’m writing this partly to ‘get the squirrels out of the my head’:

Enjoying listening to Radio 2 (currently Zoe Ball) – getting a sense of the ‘Blitz spirit’ going on today, and of course Google Alerts for ‘Keep Calm and Carry On‘ have been very frequent! But I quite like this post via Deidre Brower Latz on how it’s not all quite that beautiful… and of course worries about those trapped in domestic abuse.

Well before I was diagnosed with cancer, and then metastatic cancer, I had a desire for technology to help with inclusion – working in the areas of educational technology, and digital discipleship (see some links below on church/digital). One thing that coronavirus seems to have pushed forward (for now), is that what is normal for many with disabilities and chronic conditions is suddenly acceptable – and everyone is scrambling to learn … Tanya Marlow, with years of experience of being homebound, gives some good advice on managing synchronous online conversations. There’s so many links online – watching colleagues working hard supporting students, and getting used to Zoom, Zoho, Loom, and various other platforms, some with:

and there’s some joy in this piece.

Look out for the new MetUpUK Instagram account – the group behind the #BusyLivingWithMets hashtag.

Staying Put in New Zealand?

I’m getting quite a lot of messages asking what I am doing – am I sitting tight in New Zealand? It’s always difficult to say, but my scholarship was intended to last til 1st May – and judging by how fast things have changed in the under 3 weeks I’ve been here – well all kinds of things could happen! I managed to do an event on Wednesday evening, but all my other events have been cancelled, or we’re looking at ways of doing them online (potentially synchronously as I’m in the right time zone)!

  • I have accommodation, food, a caring set of people, and lots of fresh air on the beach… and if I get stuck here we’ll work something out for somewhere to stay. (It’s quite odd being on a conference/retreat centre that was busy with people, but, with a lot of international guests, quite empty – although means am quite ‘socially isolated’!)
  • New Zealand is in a better state than the UK for #COVID19, although it’s not necessarily expecting to escape it!
  • I’m not keen on sitting in a plane for hours with bugs flying around when a lot of my cancer friends are currently in 12 week lockdown, but may have to at some point!
  • Emirates is continuing to fly (in some kind). My trip to Australia is unlikely, so am talking to work travel agency re getting home from Auckland rather than Melbourne (where I also had tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child).
  • I’m keeping an eye on the Foreign Office travel advice for New Zealand (no one other than residents is allowed in since yesterday)
  • I emailed, but have not heard from my oncologist, but am watching a lot of friends delaying treatment (and even missing out on trials :-(), so if I do get stuck here, a bit more delay would not be unlike others are having, and should be able to access extra tablet medication. *I was due to have treatment the day after I got back, and my car MoT the day after that …

This weekend I was supposed to be visiting friends in Whangerai, but they’re in self-isolation, so seeking to keep on working on my book (make up for some of the time brain has been fizzing this last week or so … wondering if making the right decision or not – but can only make decisions with the information we have!) I’ve seen so many pieces about how x person in history did their life changing piece of work/theory during previous crises, and I prefer those who say this is a really challenging time and:

But if you haven’t completed my survey on children and the internet – appreciating the responses I’m getting to this!

I enjoyed this bit of wisdom from Marianne – author of Free Range Humans, and trying to hold onto some positives, especially good news today that China has it’s first day with ABSOLUTELY no cases (and there’s been a post how someone survived 7 weeks in lockdown)! Especially enjoying (on Facebook) Holy Pandemic: Encouragement and Memes…. one of the latest pieces I posted (humour often gets a serious message through):

Church and Digital

As a professional (and spiritual interest) – I’ve seen a number of interesting/useful posts which may help churches dealing with

I don’t know about you, but my brain is all over the place … sometimes with thoughts of new projects to come out of this, sometimes just with ‘can I curl up under the duvet’ guess it’s about finding a balance … as my breast care nurse once said ‘we worry about those that never cry, and those who never stop crying … you have a very acceptable level of crying’… so same here…

So signing off with:

By admin

Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst  (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.

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