The fight against coronavirus has largely been hailed as a success by the UK government and top health officials because the virus has not overwhelmed the NHS. It is a testament to the courage of our healthcare workers that we have managed to avoid such a calamity. Increasingly, however, there are mounting concerns in another area of health.
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Amid the swirl of anxieties about COVID-19, there is an urgent story to tell – what life is like for those living with cancer during this uncertain time.
To get a first-hand account of how COVID-19 is affecting people with cancer, Express.co.uk spoke to Sunita Thind, 37, from Derby.
Sunita was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in April 2016.
She had her left ovary and appendix removed, six months of chemotherapy and some physiotherapy.
Sunita was diagnosed with an ovarian cancer recurrence in February 2020, just before the coronavirus crisis tightened its grip on the UK and the lockdown came into effect.
Sunita revealed what it was like going in for her recent operation against the current climate.
This is Sunita’s story:
Having no close family or friends to talk to in the hospital while I was waiting for my operation to remove my cancerous ovary, lymph node and omentum has been extremely hard.
I had no one to talk to about the results of the operation either – there was the possibility that I could have lost my uterus/ womb, wondering about that has been incredibly emotionally draining.
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I was able to get my husband to bring some things to me at the ward door and we have managed to FaceTime each other every day.
In many ways he’s suffering as well as it’s mentally distressing for him knowing I am all alone in hospital.
Going into a hospital where there are patients with Covid-19 has been very scary and not knowing if I could have been infected or not.
I must say the hospital staff have been amazing at the Derby Royal Infirmary, especially Doctors Jay and Asher. But I’ve had no one really to offload all my pains and problems to.
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My wider family haven’t been able to visit me either. I’ve been lucky to have a lovely lady for company who’s also a patient at the Gynaecology ward alongside me and that has helped.
What are the specific challenges Sunita has encountered along the way?
For me the biggest challenge has been not being able to physically hold and see my husband on a daily basis as well as not having the tactile contact that sick patients need – that has really been isolating.
Also, not being able to have my husband come in every day and bring me things I need during my hospital stay, just to make the hospital experience a more comfortable and homely one. It may seem like a small thing but it’s actually needed so much.
What strategies has Sunita developed for coping?
I have tried to get on with it and do what I need to do to get me through the day. I’m aware that so many people are finding themselves dealing with situations they never thought they would be – who knew we would be living through a global pandemic?! It is surreal.
I have been FaceTiming my husband, family and friends while in hospital to keep up communication and not feel quite so alone. It’s not the same, but the best that I can do with the situation I find myself in.
Keeping a journal and writing poems during the day helps me deal with my feelings in a creative and psychologically freeing way.
I have recently had a book of multicultural poetry called The Barging Buddhi And Other Poems published by Black Pear Press. Poetry writing keeps me sane and gives me purpose especially when I feel ill, unhappy and in a great amount of pain.
I am now a published poet and am having a book of poetry published by Black Pear Press, called The Barging Buddhi and Other Poems, with proceeds going to two different ovarian cancer charities from my book launch.
The collection is based on multicultural poetry and is from the perspective of South Asian Women living between two cultures British and Asian and poetry on cancer.
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