Firstly we want to acknowledge the challenging time you are facing right now. We understand how unsettling it must feel moving between the different alert levels while undergoing cancer treatment. We are here for you and our health care system is prepared to continue delivering essential cancer services at all alert levels. Here on this page you will find information about undergoing cancer treatment as a young person during the current August/September 2021 COVID-19 lockdown period. Please keep coming back to review this page as we add new information and update the site.
Take care during this time and know you are not alone! We are here to support you as well as your Key Workers and healthcare team.
Noho ora mai (stay well and look after yourselves)
He waka eke noa (we are all in this together!)
If you have cancer you probably have questions about how COVID-19 will affect your cancer treatment, care and medical appointments. We’ve answered some of the main ones below.
Will my cancer treatment be delayed because of the COVID-19 lockdown?
What if I have a medical appointment? Should I attend this in person?
Can my whānau and/or support people attend appointments and treatment with me during Alert Level 4?
I was due to be visited by a member of my healthcare team at home – will they still be coming?
I require treatment to be delivered outside of where I live. Can I still access this?
What should I do if I am on chemotherapy and feel unwell with fever, sweats and shivering?
I fear that my cancer may have returned or I have developed a new cancer symptom or side effect from my treatment – what should I do?
Are pharmacies and labs still open for me to pick up my prescriptions and complete blood tests?
Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am currently receiving cancer treatment?
We know that there are a number of financial and non-financial factors that could be causing additional stress for you and your whānau during this time, and that these may impact on your ability to engage in your cancer treatment. We can’t stress enough the need to highlight these to your keyworker or healthcare team so that plans and support can be put in place to help you.
I am having difficulties attending my appointments or treatments due to issues such as transport and childcare. What should I do?
I don’t have access to a phone or credit to keep in contact with my healthcare team?
Most of you will be familiar with the service that the Key Workers provide. We are health professionals employed to provide care co-ordination and oversight for young people aged 12 to 24 years who are diagnosed with cancer.
We can help during these times by
“ I was lucky to have the care of an incredible AYA Key Worker who made it more than her personal mission to ensure that I was well looked after. She stepped in and took action with my day to day stableness.”
The Key Workers are an essential service and are all working and available during this time. Even if you have never had contact from a Key Worker in the past please reach out if they could be of help. In some regions they can attend appointments or visit you in hospital even when your whānau cannot.
The Key Workers are based in six regions to provide support for young people across the country. Their contact details can be found below and days and times of work. Text or call them – whatever works best for you. There will be times when you may hear from a Key Worker from another region. This may be related to availability. However, please remember the Key Workers are not an emergency service and do not work evenings and weekends. Please contact your healthcare team if you have immediate concerns or 111 if it is an emergency.
If you have tried to get hold of a Key Worker and not had a reply then please send an email to AYAcancer@adhb.govt.nz and we will ensure this is followed up by one of the team.
Please find Key Worker contact information here or otherwise in the COVID-19 Update letter below.
We want to acknowledge that lockdown can bring with it a range of feelings and emotions. Some young people told us last year that they preferred lockdowns because their families could be at home with them and they weren’t missing out on socialising with friends because nobody was going out! For others, challenges with hospital visits or the impact of not being able to be with loved ones placed them under additional stress. Taking care of your emotional wellbeing is so important during these times so below we’ve shared some tips, resources and services to help support you.
Do you have any helpful suggestions for me when admitted to hospital or attending my treatments?
Open this link for top tips on what you can do when in the hospital View here
Here are some helpful suggestions from young people who attended treatment or were admitted during last years’ lockdown;
What help and support is available to me during lockdown?
A number of the services you may already be familiar with are still open and are there for you such as CanTeen, Child Cancer Foundation, Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand and Cancer Society. Most of their face to face support and programmes are on hold but they continue to provide support via phone, video calls and online. We encourage you to reach out to your support workers and if not already a member and wanting assistance you would also be welcomed.
CanTeen NZ has an online peer support network and counsellors available seven days a week. They are ready to chat, listen and support when you need it. You can find more information by following the link below
There are also other dedicated self-help tools and supports that you may find useful listed below:
We have set up the message box below where you can post questions anonymously and we will answer these in a timely manner by posting answers back on to the web page. We do encourage you to ask any questions you may have. If you have a question we’re sure that many others will have a similar one.
Please note: Any clinical related questions about your individual care should be directed to your healthcare team or AYA Key Worker. Please see the contact details above.
The AYA Keyworkers hope you are keeping safe and well during COVID-19 Alert Level 4. Below is an update sent out from the group on the 26th August outlining information and supports available to you during this time.
The Clinical Leader is responsible for providing clinical leadership and national oversight of the network .
Heidi is a passionate and experienced health professional with a strong clinical, education and leadership background. Her enthusiasm for, and commitment to youth health has focused on improving the outcomes of youth with cancer and chronic health conditions. Previously, Heidi held the position of AYA Cancer Nurse Specialist for Auckland District Health Board. Alongside her AYA clinical leadership role she holds a youth health academic position at the University of Auckland.