Lockdown with cancer: 'Social isolation not new to me'

By Louise Cowie
BBC Scotland reporter

image copyrightFi Munro
image captionFi Munro has been shielding at home in Errol for two months

Living with terminal cancer means life in lockdown is nothing new for Perthshire author Fi Munro.

The 35-year-old told The Nine she has been shielding at home in Errol for the last two months.

Fi said a recent week-long hospital stay because of a bowel obstruction felt "in many ways quite social".

She finishes her latest round of chemotherapy shortly, but says coronavirus has put paid to other treatment options.

"Ordinarily, I would have been able to put my name down if there were any trials available," she said.

"I obviously can't go abroad for treatment because I'm unable to travel just now so there's limitations there."

image copyrightFi Munro
image captionThe author shared her story in the book How Long Have I Got?

Fi, who lives with her husband and dog, was diagnosed with stage-four ovarian cancer in January 2016.

She describes her experiences in her blog and the book How Long Have I Got?

She said a previous "very successful" trial had given her "an additional 16 months."

She said: "But just now with coronavirus there's no openings on trials because we're saving NHS resources, which I understand."

Fi now has tumours in her lungs, liver, abdomen and around her heart, so keeping isolated is vital.

She said: "When you're going through chemo and stuff and your immune system has been suppressed we've had to do isolation before.

"We're kind of more used to it than the general public is, it's not new to us."

image copyrightFi Munro

Fi was well-acquainted with the oncology staff she saw on her recent visit to hospital.

She said: "It felt actually in many ways quite social for me as I'd only seen my husband for weeks.

"They've managed to keep the oncology ward clean and free of Covid which is amazing.

"They've done that by not allowing visitors, so as hard as it was being in and not being able to see anyone, I realise how important it was."

image copyrightFi Munro
image captionFi was diagnosed with stage-four ovarian cancer in 2016

Fi said that following diagnosis, surgery, and chemotherapy she is processing "hard news a lot of the time" in terms of her health and mortality.

But, she is also taking each day as it comes.

She said: "I obviously can't see family or friends like anybody else.

"But it's a bit harder when you're living with a terminal condition because time is so precious together.

"Not knowing when you'll be able to see them again is really, really hard.

"But, I'm getting more writing done, spending more time with my husband so there's always something to be grateful for."