While these may feel like uncertain times, regular checkups, including follow up care, are important appointments to maintain between you and your doctor. As well as keeping regular lines of communication going with your treatment team.
Stem cell transplants are an important treatment option for people with blood cancer. However, having a weakened immune system may also increase your risk of COVID-19. Your doctor will discuss both the benefits of the stem cell transplant but also your individual risk. A transplant can affect your immune system so it is possible your doctor will choose to delay your transplant if they believe this will provide the best outcome for you.
If you are concerned, you should speak to your treating team to make sure you understand what factors your treatment team has considered. Please also remember that our 13 11 20 information and support number is available if you need practical or emotional support during this time.
The Leukaemia Foundation has more information that could help you here.
13 11 20 Information and Support (Cancer Council)
Blood cancer and COVID-19 (Leukaemia Foundation)
It is important to talk with your treatment team before travelling for treatment and follow up appointments to avoid unnecessary travel. Many services have already moved to telehealth consultations and this may be the right solution for you. Your doctor should be able to advise you if there is an equivalent local service closer to home which may be more suitable during this time if you do need treatment.
Reimbursement for required medical travel will remain under each state-based patient travel and accommodation scheme. Information about these schemes is available here.
If you do need to travel interstate for treatment and you are impacted by border closures then you will likely be able to apply for classification as an essential traveller on compassionate grounds, such as medical treatment or visiting ill loved ones.
You can read more about border closures and access links to your state or territory here.
You can also talk to your treatment team if you need assistance getting approval to cross any borders.
State and territory border closures due to COVID-19 (Australian Interstate Quarantine)
While you might feel anxious about attending appointments at the moment, your regular check-up and appointments are still important, and hospitals are putting measures in place to reduce your risk of infection and ensure you are safe. Where possible appointments for assessment, monitoring and follow up will be done by telehealth, and you can discuss your concerns and options with your GP or treating team.
Treatment appointments will mostly require face-to-face meeting appointments, but steps are in place to reduce your risk of exposure to coronavirus during any visits. If you are unsure, ring ahead before any appointment to see if you should attend given your personal situation. It is important to continue to have any tests ordered by your doctor used in monitoring your condition to ensure any changes can be identified early. Sometimes you may be asked to attend a service closer to your home for blood and other tests to reduce your risk of exposure.
Let your doctor know if you feel anxious about attending your regular appointments and your risk of exposure to COVID-19. We would encourage you to speak to your doctor about utilising telehealth option whenever possible.
Restrictions on who can visit you in hospital during the COVID-19 situation will usually be determined by your hospital and are influenced by the condition of the person who is ill, so you should speak to the hospital directly about their policy. Our health services are facing unprecedented circumstances and are making difficult decisions to protect patients and their families to reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19.
It is understandable to want to have your loved one’s around you at a time of uncertainty however if your immune system is lowered, we encourage you to take additional precautions when it comes to having visitors.
If you agree to have visitors, your family might also choose to self-isolate to lower their risk of contracting the virus and subsequently passing it on to you. You might also decide that it might be better to have video calls with your loved ones, rather than having visitors at this time if you feel the risk is too great.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.