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"My partner has blood cancer. But I'm commuting to work"

Our Support Services Team supports family members and friends of people with blood cancer every day. This topic is coming up a lot at the moment as the pandemic continues to put people with blood cancer at risk.

Your question:

December 2020

My partner has blood cancer and is on the shielding patient list. I was on furlough but now I'm commuting to work again, which I’m satisfied is COVID-safe. I travel by public transport. I can't do my work at home, but my partner is very worried about the added risk of me working. How can I help them feel happier about this?

Our answer:

Let’s start with the practical side. Have you explained to your partner what measures your employer has put in place to make the workplace safer? Perhaps you can describe in detail what happens now – how far apart you and your colleagues are when you’re working, how people are moving around the building, and so on. Once you’ve shared those details, you can talk about where the risk of infection might be greatest and work out what could help.

For instance, could you keep any crockery and cutlery you use at work separate from everyone else’s? If you can't distance from others in an area like a corridor or a lift, can you make sure you're wearing a face mask? Do you have access to hand sanitiser and wipes for any equipment you share, and do you use them regularly? More information about the actual situation could ease your partner’s worries.

Talk to your employer

If your partner has any particular concerns about the work environment, discuss what extra precautions you can take. Talk to your employer. Would they be willing to make changes so you can distance from your colleagues more effectively or change your hours so that you don’t have to travel at peak times?

Your need to travel on public transport is probably another area of worry for your partner. Again, discuss whether you could use gloves or hand sanitiser along with your face mask to help lower the risk of infection when you’re travelling. When you get home in the evening, would you consider changing your clothes straight away, and washing the ones you’ve been wearing?

As a couple you may need to have a frank discussion about your attitudes to risk, as it sounds like you have different views on this. Share your worries with each other as honestly as you can. Our information on understanding your level of risk might help you get the conversation started.

There’s an emotional side to this as well. Things keep changing, and there are different rules depending on where you live. It can take a while for people to get used to this, especially if they’re at higher risk from coronavirus. Add hearing about coronavirus on the news every day and it’s no wonder it’s difficult for your partner to feel relaxed.

People at any stage of blood cancer can experience anxiety, and a global pandemic is only going to make things worse. So you might want to explore ways to support your partner with this. We have strategies to help people manage stress and anxiety which you could look at together.

Find out more about supporting someone with blood cancer. Here's our full list of questions on topics you may find helpful.

Worried about anything or have questions?

If you have any questions, worries, or just need someone to talk to, please don't hesitate to contact our Support Services Team via phone or email.

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