We know that lots of Trekstock's community of young adults living with and beyond cancer are currently strictly self-isolating during these difficult times with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.

We've asked our community to share their tips and plans to stay positive and sane during these extraordinary times. Next up, it's Joe.

Lockdown – it’s a time I doubt any of us will ever forget in our lifetimes. Creativity has perhaps never been more vital though thank goodness we are in a digitised generation.

I have to admit there was a lot about lockdown that reminded me of my chemo experience. Distracting myself with work as often as possible, spending weekends locked indoors for duvet days and boxset bingeing (I don’t understand why I waited so long to watch Killing Eve!), being paranoid about the spread of germs and only venturing outdoors to briefly walk the dog and of course, utilising the indoors time to test out new looks! My job has meant keeping abreast of the daily coronavirus briefings has been essential – I was very glad when they scrapped the weekend ones!

But what has been different from my chemo days, 18 months ago is that this time everyone was on the same journey this time around. It was no longer just my burden to carry and get sympathy for. Yes, people still thought of me as part of the vulnerable category asking have you had the letter (I didn’t) and are you shielding (I’m not) – but once they’d broken the barriers, it was a little more normal than before!

Some of the more fun things I’ve done:

  • Quizzes – So many of these, in some ways it has been relentless but it has broadened my general knowledge and given me great excuses to interact virtually and kill the boredom with light-hearted banter infused
  • Virtual coffee chats – it’s undoubtedly never been more important to talk. Like the time in treatment where you think of all the shoulda, woulda, coulda – being left on your own for too long can make the mind go-round at a million miles per hour. I cherished these virtual breaks to just be a lad. They’re also just as important with work colleagues – what is work without some watercooler moments?!
  • Speed dating – I cringe at 1:1 video dating, tried it – felt super awkward. But the speed dating has been a little bit more fun. Less pressure, more intrigue. You can chat more freely without being paranoid about your surroundings etc.
  • Household competitions – Occasionally just doing silly things like first to finish a jigsaw, bake-off challenges (cooking and judging purely based on looks unless an unbiased taster is also in the household), online scrabble contests and so on…
  • Virtual DJ sets – Music has always been key for me and lockdown is no exception. It is great to be able to enjoy a virtual celebration of music with lots of the housebound DJ sets that go live on Facebook and Twitch.
  • Eventually, I’ve embraced the outdoors too! Once I got over the anxiety of being uncertain of how immuno-compromised I actually was coupled with the prominence of BAME people being most vulnerable – I eventually ventured out wider than my garden as my source of much needed Vitamin D! Don’t get me wrong, I am still paranoid about what other people do when they are also out and I am not ready to be anywhere close to crowds – but I do enjoy walking around green spaces and even retail places now and just being acutely aware of what is happening around me and respecting personal space as per guidelines. More recently, meeting up with small groups in person in this has been very welcome! Playing tennis where courts are actually available has also been a blessing and I have to admit I’ve even sat in a McDonald's drive-thru queue and visited takeaway KFC on a few occasions!!

There have inevitably been challenges around my cancer. I refuse to use public transport at the moment and with my treatment being in Central London that means I have to do blood tests locally and pester my GP to make sure the results are emailed to my oncology team. My actual check-ups are done over the phone. So far, it has been relatively plain sailing though for the first time ever my testosterone levels were tested and found to be abnormal so there is definitely something depleted due to lockdown lols!

I do feel that a driver of this is the lack of intense exercise beyond the walkarounds. I am keen to see the gyms reopen to really test myself in private. I just don’t have space anywhere around my house to do a decent exercise session (or take part in the 34 day challenge – although I could never willingly film myself haha) but I do miss dedicated gym times and am really longing for a proper swim too. Weighing upon what sort of staycation I might be willing to do – maybe just spa breaks! I miss outdoor comradery so much!

Thanks for reading! Hope you are all adapting well in these lockdown times, stay safe wherever you are – keep washing your hands and don’t touch your face (often impossible I find!) and if (or perhaps when) 2m goes down to 1m, act in your own interests – don’t be rushed by anyone but yourself.

Read more of Joe's story here