June 5, 2020

Cancer patients increase their demand for psychological support by COVID



People undergoing treatment for cancer have needed more psychological support since the COVID crisis broke out due to the anxiety caused by both going to hospitals and managing that some of their planned visits are postponed, patients and entities have explained to Efe.

Carmen, with breast cancer, a neighbor from the center of Barcelona, ​​recognizes herself “twice as scared than anyone” before the coronavirus due to her disease.

Being immunosuppressed, she says she was used to leaving home a little and protected, but now she has “one more cause for concern” and is “uneasy” about running into unmasked people on the street.

She lives alone and says she misses the therapies and face-to-face workshops of Oncolliga, a Catalan foundation that offers psychosocial support to cancer patients.

Although she continues to communicate with them over the phone and although she is “very grateful” to her psychologist, she acknowledges that “it is not the same” and that she needs to be in physical contact with other women who are going through the same thing as her.

The worst moment since the pandemic broke out was the first unavoidable visit to undergo treatment “and the fear of going somewhere where you can catch it.” Luckily, oncology services have been separated to another building in the hospital where I go, “he explained.

“I do not know if it is due to the disease or the pressure we all suffer, but I feel more down and I feel more dizzy than I did before, and I feel more tired. This is distressing for many people and those of us who have this disease Well imagine, multiplied by two, “he said.

One of Oncolliga’s psycho-oncologists, Dr. Patricia Martí, says that patients are aware of being at risk and their fear has increased with COVID, either because they have to go to the hospital for treatment and be close to the virus or because of on the contrary, because their non-priority treatments have been postponed.

The latter also represents a halt in the recovery processes when surgeries such as breast reconstruction are postponed after an intervention, which in usual circumstances is intended to be done as soon as possible to help the patient also heal her psychological wounds after cancer. .

“In addition, there is the anguish derived from staying more at home, of not being able to go out and have less access to distractions, which further complicates the fear of not receiving the treatment in the expected time frame,” according to Martí.

The psycho-oncologist has pointed out that the patients themselves already live with the uncertainty of how the treatment will go, an uncertainty that does not help if in some cases schedules of interventions or visits have been modified due to the situation the patient has faced. sanitary system.

One of the most common tools and guidelines is to manage loneliness and regulate their emotions in these days when they cannot see relatives or support people due to confinement, for which they try to help them “self-regulate” before thoughts and Negative feelings with breathing materials, yoga or others, Martí pointed out.

From the federation of entities against cancer in Catalonia (FECEC), Clara Rosas comments that all the associations and foundations have turned to continue offering their psychological support services and improve the quality of life of cancer patients and their families in the context of the pandemic.

“They have quickly adapted to offer psychosocial assistance at a distance and according to the means that the patient masters: be it videoconference, email or a call,” he said.

Rosas has recognized that remote work “is not the same”, but it does have the repairing effect of accompanying the patient and making it easier for him to continue having a different routine every day in line to always reserve a space to improve his physical or emotional well-being .

Lara Malvesí

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