Deaf women with cancer tell of pandemic challenges

Linda Murray, from King's Lynn, is deaf and has been diagnosed with cancer.

Linda Murray, from King's Lynn, is deaf and has been diagnosed with cancer. - Credit: Big C

Two Norfolk women who have been diagnosed with cancer and are deaf have spoken about the challenges the deaf community has faced during the pandemic.

Linda Murray and Jenny Cave, who both live in King's Lynn, have  expressed their gratitude for the support shown by charity Big C, which worked quickly at the start of the pandemic to ensure people who were facing cancer in "extremely difficult circumstances" were able to get help online and over the phone.

Linda Murray and her husband Terry, from King's Lynn, who are both deaf.

Linda Murray and her husband Terry, from King's Lynn, who are both deaf. - Credit: Big C

This includes group sessions, counselling, welfare support, physical activity and a wellbeing intervention programme with the charity's health and education officer Simon Gooch.

Big C said it was acutely aware of the increased isolation, difficulties and stress that has been brought about as a result of the coronavirus restrictions and adapted its British Sign Language (BSL) support sessions to an online cancer support group for the deaf community.

Jenny Cave, from King's Lynn, has been receiving support from charity Big C.

Jenny Cave, from King's Lynn, has been receiving support from charity Big C and has recently been told of the good news that she is cancer free. - Credit: Big C

Mrs Murray, 75, who lives with her husband Terry, who is also deaf, said: “The pandemic has been such a difficult and isolating time for the deaf community.

"Even people wearing masks makes it almost impossible to gain understanding from lipreading and facial expressions."

The 75-year-old, who also has COPD and arthritis, thanked Big C for their "enormous help" and opportunity to connect with others socially.

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She added: "Knowing you have someone to help you solve problems with arrangements for appointments, or to ask questions about medication is really reassuring.

“We have been more immobile during lockdown as I have needed to shield and more recently due to the cold snap as I couldn’t risk slipping.”

Linda Murray and her husband Terry, from King's Lynn, who are both deaf.

Linda Murray and her husband Terry, from King's Lynn, who are both deaf. - Credit: Big C

Jenny Cave, 58, recently received good news that she is cancer free after she was diagnosed at the end of 2019.

She has been getting help from the charity by taking part in monthly meetings and its exercise programme - which she said has helped stretch out her muscles in her swollen right arm.

She said: “I started visiting the Big C centre not long after I found out. It obviously wasn’t too long after that the pandemic began, and we needed to stay at home. I have found the monthly meetings a big help."

Big C, which has offices in Norwich and King's Lynn, has been supporting users remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Big C, which has offices in Norwich and King's Lynn, has been supporting users remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. - Credit: Big C

As part of the ‘Get Moving’ programme, Big C launched yoga videos led by an instructor using BSL which is suitable for people with cancer.

Tonia King, cancer support and information area manager, said: “We feel strongly that everyone should have equal access to opportunities for help."

Tonia King, Area Centre Manager

Tonia King, area centre manager at Big C - Credit: Julian Claxton Photography/ Big C