On a day when 3 people in England died of Covid I lost four friends to cancer – it’s time for some perspective

FOR the last seven months I have lived in fear that if I get Covid, it will kill me.

The message has been clear, if you are vulnerable and you get it, you die.

So we locked ourselves away for months, to flatten the curve and stop the spread.

It worked really well for a bit.

But now, after lockdown eased and infections have started to creep back up, we are facing the threat of more restrictions.

The reality is we might have to live like this until a vaccine is found – and that might not be until next year.

All that makes sense, it’s not much to sacrifice is it? For the sake of a few months?

Sure, but some people don’t have the luxury of a certain future.

Some of us are already living on borrowed time, where all we have is today.

My fit and healthy husband has higher Covid risk than I do

We can’t afford to spend any more time locked at home, and we can’t afford to have treatment plans delayed, operations cancelled and diagnoses missed.

I have stage 4 bowel cancer that is incurable.

My chance of living five years after diagnosis is 8 per cent – my five year milestone is next Christmas.

Meanwhile, my chance of surviving Covid-19, according to a clever algorithm is 99.9 per cent.

My husband, who is fit and healthy but a couple of years older than me has a higher risk of dying from coronavirus than I do. And I am living with incurable cancer.

Wake up – there's other sh*t going on

It is time for some perspective, it’s time for the Government to get a grip.

Yes infections are starting to rise again, but hospital admissions and deaths don’t appear to be spiralling out of control.

We absolutely have to stay vigilant and follow the rules, wear masks, wash our hands and keep our distance.

But we need to wake up to the fact that other sh*t is going down too!

Last week, on a day when England’s daily Covid death toll was three, I said goodbye to four young friends.

They all died of cancer, on the same day. Two of them left behind young kids, younger than my own.

Where is their headline? Where is their daily press conference? Where is there emergency funding to pump cash into their treatment? Where is their global race for a vaccine?

Every single day in the UK, around 500 people die of cancer.

It’s not something that started to happen eight months ago, cancer happens every single day.

Think how scared we all felt at the height of this as we watched numbers going up?

It's the collateral damage that terrifies me

We need to start thinking about cancer in the same vein but believe me, start to and it’s more terrifying than you could ever imagine.

Covid-19 is undoubtedly the biggest health crisis we have ever seen, but it is the collateral damage that terrifies me.

The longer this goes on, the more people will die. Not from Covid but from cancers, heart disease, stroke, mental health problems and other conditions much more deadly than coronavirus.

In July, experts predicted we could see up to 35,000 extra deaths from cancer as a result of the pandemic.

At the time some thought that seemed a stretch.

But, it’s becoming more and more clear that it could be just the tip of the iceberg – that estimate feels conservative now.

We have to find a balance, we need to find a way to keep people safe from Covid while recognising it is not the biggest killer in our midst.

New figures out last week showed that once again dementia, heart disease and respiratory conditions, all killed more people than coronavirus last month.

In July, Covid ranked number eight on that killer list. On Friday, it dropped to number 24.

Last week flu killed ten times more people than coronavirus – FLU, and it is summer!

Covid trade off was understandable

It was only right that we went into lockdown, right that the NHS was transformed almost overnight into a lean, mean Covid-fighting machine.

It was understandable that the trade off for that was that other services had to be put on hold.

I totally get that to work this thing out, and find out how to stop it spreading, we had to hide away, retreat into our homes and stay put.

But we cannot afford to go back to that, whatever new infection rates come our way.

Let’s hold on to the fact that the vast majority of people who catch Covid will be ok, they might feel rough as hell for a bit, but they will survive.

Let’s hold on to the fact our kids have a pretty good chance of avoiding it.

And at 5pm every day, in place of the daily press conference that once was, let’s all remember the collateral damage.

Get diagnosed with cancer late – and many people are facing delayed diagnoses because of this – and chances are most people will die.

Coronavirus might be scary, and it might have spread like wildfire, but chances are you will survive.

Cancer isn’t so kind – and one in two of us will get it.

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