Corona letter - Should I shield?

Hi all,

I know none of you will have the answer to this but I would really welcome any opinions. 

I got a letter from the U.K. government this morning saying I am on the list of highly vulnerable people due to undergoing chemo. I finished my chemo about a month ago. I understand your immune system take a while to get back up to speed but I can't find anything that says how long this takes. I presume it varies. I haven't had any blood work to tell me about my situation. 

My problem is that I have a 4 year old to look after and my boyfriend is a key worker (mental health work). I could take my daughter and live with my parents but My daughter (and I) would be much happier staying at home. I just worry that I am more at risk with my boyfriend being a key worker. The letter suggests remaining apart from everyone in my house and cleaning the bathroom etc before I use it, not sharing a bed etc. I just can't see myself doing that without being really unhappy. How do I do it and take care of my daughter? Is my mental well being worth the added risk of staying living at home? I am tempted to just ignore the letter and as long as I stay at home and do all the hand washing etc I will hopefully be ok. 

I just don't know what to do? 

Any opinions for experiences of your own situations would be valuable to me. Thanks 


If I were you I would ask the advice of your hospital team or your GP.


It is possible for you and daughter to stay in one bedroom and boyfriend stays in the other? Hand hygiene and strips at the door and he washes his own clothes and keeps a bit of distance when at home? 


I know my total white blood cell count (WBC) was still below normal  5 months after treatment finished.  After 10 months my total WBC was within normal range but very low and my lymphocytes were still below normal.  I didn't get any more blood tests after that because I'd had enough of being a pin cushion.  I don't know to what extent individuals vary in regaining a normal blood count.  Prior to the Covid-19 crisis I didn't take any special precautions and I don't seem to have had more colds. for example, than normal although I did get shingles last year - possibly my age (63y). 

Although your boyfriend is a key worker to what extent do you feel he is potentially exposed to Covid?  Can he maintain a 2m distance from the people he works with?  Does he have sufficient PPE?  How many people does he interact with on a daily basis?  I suppose I'm suggesting doing some sort of risk assessment.  Is there anything more he can reasonably do to reduce his risk of being infected or infecting you?  I was listening to Peter Andre talking about his partner who I believe works in a hospital; apparently the first thing she does when she gets home is to decontaminate - work clothes off and straight into the wash then she showers/bathes before going anywhere near the family.

I have a friend who has to shield on account of incurable blood cancer.  There are 3 other adult people in his household.  He sleeps in a separate room and doesn't share anything e.g towels etc etc.  I understand it's difficult to do but you could maybe start off attempting to follow all the advice in your letter and if it really gets too arduous then decide on compromises as you go.  I think it's a situation worthy of a sit down discussion(s) with your boyfriend and bash out a workable plan - plans can always be reviewed. 

I've been saddled with a couple of (in my view) life changing side effects of my treatment: paralytic bladder for which I have to use catheters and fairly severe lymphoedema.  I have to spend a  significant amount of time, every day, managing them - seriously it's a long list lol.  Although I would dearly like to wake up one day without having to do all the self management stuff I've got better at it as I've gone along and I'm sure you will too with your situation.  It's a learning curve -  a bit like anything which feels very challenging - it's not going to be easy and perfect from day 1 and that's OK.

Good luck


Hey sweetheart,

I finished treatment in September and I too received 2 letters one telling me to stay at home and the second telling me to stay away from all keyworkers,

eat in my room etc 

This was also reiterated by both my CNS and consultant. My husband and I both work for a supermarket, luckily I have been paid to be at home since March, my husband comes home after every shift and puts all his keys, wallet etc into a sealed plastic bag, then takes all his work clothes off and immediately washes them and then showers, he does touch anything or socialise with us until he's "clean". This is all we have been doing for 2 months and this is really al we can do.

if you can stay home I would and if you can implement a routine that keeps you safe then please do. 
much love xxx 


One month is a really short time since finishing treatment. I'm the same as Jazza, 5 months from treatment and my bloods are not back to normal yet. You'll know what is best for you but I would be very careful. You may feel ok but that does not necessarily mean your immune system is back to normal. Best of luck x


I received a phone call from my GP last week asking if I had received the letter. (I had not). I have just finished treatment. 

The letter I received states to shield until 30th of June. 

I asked the GP how long it would take my immune system to recover after treatment ends and what I should do after the 30th June. I also explained that I have been off work shielding since the lockdown date as has my partner. We both work where we come in close contact with members of the public and mostly not in pleasant situations.

He's answer was as follows.. 

About 3 months for immune system to fully recover but that is dependant if you have any other health issues and does vary on perso etc 

He will re assess the situation closer to the 30th June but can do one of the following...

Sign me off work for another 1,2,3 months 

I return to work and he writes a letter saying I can do admin only and stay away from the public for as long as required. (I would rather return to work) 

I said my partner cannot stay off work for ever but due to the job risk what do I do... Basically... Stay in different rooms, use the kitchen at different times, use different  bathrooms etc. 

Soo really I dont think any one has a definitive answer 



Thank you everyone - such a difficult decision. 

I finished treatment almost 2 weeks ago. My husband is a key worker and so am I. I wasn't sure when to go back to work. I didn't realise how long it may take my immune system to recover, no one has ever said really 

I was told at least 3 months it takes to recover. 

Thank you. That's good to know. I was getting annoyed with myself as wanted to be back running lots by now! I'll give myself some time and be less impatient! 

I couldn't return to work at the moment. I'm exhausted, pains in legs, no strength and when really tired I can barely string a sentence together. 

I'm sorry to hear that Harvitt. That's rough. I couldn't go just yet as I still need my afternoon nap and I definitely can't do that at work.