CEO, Canadian Cancer Society
We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed new challenges on the millions of Canadians living with serious diseases including cancer. Thankfully, the Canadian Cancer Society has support available for both those living with cancer and their caregivers.
With disruptions in cancer care and support services, and with virtual health care becoming more prevalent, the Canadian Cancer Society surveyed people living with cancer and their caregivers to understand their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We learned the pandemic has contributed to increased levels of anxiety and concern among both groups. For caregivers specifically, levels of anxiety increased from 51 percent pre-pandemic to 82 percent during its peak. Caregivers reported providing more support than usual while emergency restrictions were in place and 58 percent reported spending more time than normal trying to access and coordinate services for the person they care for.
Caregivers are spouses, children, friends, and neighbours. During the pandemic, new burdens have been placed on them. The already-challenging role of navigating the health care system and supporting a loved one during illness has become even more complicated. Caregivers are a too-often overlooked but critical partner in the cancer experience.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to find new ways of helping one another.
Support for people with cancer and caregivers
Our Cancer Information Helpline and cancerconnection.ca community are critical resources for both people with cancer and their caregivers.
But everyone has a role to play. You can take simple steps to make sure people affected by cancer — whether they’re living with the disease or caring for someone with it — get the support and compassion they need. Lend a listening ear. Provide a healthy meal. Shrink their to-do list. Ask how you can help. Encourage a safe walk outside.
We’ll be living with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, we must build stronger circles of support. We must take care of one another so that no one faces cancer alone.