Cancer sufferer’s concerns over Covid impact on treatment

Liz McAinish contracted coronavirus while undergoing breast cancer treatment in 2020.

A woman living with cancer who contracted coronavirus, needed a hip replacement and suffered a neck fracture in just five months is concerned the pandemic is impacting cancer services. 

Liz McAinish has been treated for primary and secondary breast cancer for the last five years.

However 2020 brought a whole host of new problems for the former police officer, after she contracted coronavirus in early March when little was definitively known about the virus. 

In May, a scan revealed a hip fracture which required hip replacement surgery.

And then in July she received radiotherapy for a neck fracture.

“It’s just like getting hit with a tsunami, you just don’t know what to think,” she said.

“Surprisingly my symptoms in terms of Covid were quite insignificant. I just had a slight cough, not a significant cough at all and my temperature never went too high either. It was only about 37.5C.

“But I became more tired, really tired and I started getting really breathless. I actually thought it was the new cancer treatment that I was on. So I phoned up the cancer treatment helpline and they said well you better go to the hospital. 

“So they assessed me for Covid and I said ‘I’ve not got Covid, it’s just my cancer treatment’. I expected to go to the cancer ward but I had a positive Covid test and spent some time feeling really unwell.”

With the help of friends and family, Liz has battled through and is now rebuilding her strength.

But she is concerned about what the pandemic means for cancer sufferers.

“I’ll never know what impact Covid had, because I had to stop my cancer treatment when I was in hospital. That was really worrying,” she said.

“I’m slightly concerned about the fact that the number of trials that used to be going ahead, it’s not the same number. So they certainly have reduced.

“So as somebody who has secondary breast cancer, where the trials are really important, that certainly worries me.”

On Friday, Macmillan Cancer Support revealed 15% of cancer patients in Scotland are worried disruption due to the pandemic could reduce the likelihood of their treatment being successful.

Janice Preston, Macmillan’s head of services in Scotland, said: “This is a time of almost unprecedented challenge for people with cancer.

“For many, the pandemic feels like the worst possible Groundhog Day, but we want everyone with cancer to know that they aren’t alone.

“We will keep doing whatever it takes to ensure people with cancer do not feel forgotten in this crisis and we want everyone to know that we’re here for them.”

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