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Young people with cancer feeling further isolated as a result of COVID-19 Pandemic

The charity supports 13-24 year olds with specialist cancer nursing and youth support services and surveyed over 100 young people. Many of those surveyed attributed feelings of loneliness and distress directly to the pandemic. The survey found that-:

  • 81% of respondents had been asked to shield, and nearly all (91%) said they had been affected by shielding
  • During the pandemic, young people found accessing a physiotherapist (69%) and psychologist (53%) more challenging than normal
  • Young people were likely to see a Teenage Cancer Trust Youth Support Coordinator more often than they were before the pandemic
  • Seeing friends and family (53%); accessing work or education (44%) and young people’s mental (27%) and physical health (25%) were all areas that young people felt were difficult to manage during the pandemic.

The report found that, with the pandemic costing charities like the Teenage Cancer Trust millions of pounds in lost income, there is a real threat that services will be lost altogether. The report recommends that the UK Government should provide emergency funding to help make up this shortfall and continue to fund age appropriate units, nurses and youth support workers. The charity is also recommending that teenage and young adult specific recovery plans for each UK nation are developed to overcome the longer-term impacts of COVID-19 and shielding for young people with cancer.

Dr Louise Soanes, Director of Services for Teenage Cancer Trust, said:

‘Young people who develop cancer are often hit the hardest psychologically. They have the trauma of a cancer diagnosis, the effects of treatment and isolation and the difficulty of seeing their friends move on with their lives when they feel like theirs has come to a complete standstill……access to psychological support was a struggle even before Coronavirus. But now, as young people with cancer begin to see their friends going back to school, those who continue to shield feel more isolated than ever - they need and deserve urgent support’

The full report ‘Cancer x coronavirus: the impact on young people’ can be found here https://www.teenagecancertrust.org/teens-cancer-missing-out-vital-psychological-support