Dear Friends and Supporters,
We are now in our third week of lockdown and the demand on our health service is growing exponentially with the rise of new cases and, sadly the number for deaths from COVID-19.
We are hearing that many doctors and nurses who work in cancer services are being re-deployed to the front line to tackle the virus and that in some cases treatments for pancreatic cancer such as surgery and chemotherapy are being postponed or cancelled.
This varies depending on where you are in the country and how badly affected a region has been by COVID-19.
Advice and information has been changing almost on a daily basis, but we at Pancreatic Cancer Action are keeping on top of it by attending many (virtual) meetings with NHS England and receiving updates in Scotland via our office there and by collaborating with other charities and organisations to share information.
Using these channels, we are continuing to update our website and social media channels on a daily basis to give you, our patients and their families the most up-to date information we can.
We are advising that patients stay in close contact with their medical teams to ensure that decisions around their treatment are properly communicated. And, importantly, we are also advising that if patients have symptoms of pancreatic cancer, that they still contact their GP. The consultation may initially be over the phone or via a video call but GP practices are still operating, and GPs are still there to treat other conditions than COVID-19. If you have severe symptoms and cannot get hold of your GP, in extreme emergency situations, we would advise visiting A & E bearing in mind the risk of visiting a hospital that may be treating COVID-19 patients.
This is a really difficult time for everyone, but our first priority is still early diagnosis and to look after pancreatic cancer patients and their families.
Also, we can carrying on with our research project at the University of Surrey looking at patient records of people with diabetes who went on to get pancreatic cancer and those who did not. The aim is to identify a group of new-onset diabetes patients who could potentially be at risk of pancreatic cancer and to help GPs know when to refer a patient with new-onset diabetes for pancreatic cancer testing in the hope they can be diagnosed early.
Because we are so reliant on voluntary donations, the lockdown has meant that fundraising events have been cancelled or postponed and our income has virtually dried up overnight. Therefore, we have had to make the difficult but prudent decision to utilise the government’s Job Retention Scheme and 60 per cent of the team has been furloughed.
We are doing everything we can to cut unnecessary costs, so that when this is over, we can hit the ground running and pick up where we left off.
We still have a core team in place and, despite the challenges, we at Pancreatic Cancer Action are determined to be there for the people who need us – our pancreatic cancer patients and their families.
I’d like to thank all our wonderful supporters for continuing to stick with us in these unprecedented and difficult times.
Thank you and stay safe!