People living with cancer in England say the so-called “Freedom Day”, marking an end to the remaining coronavirus restrictions, is “meaningless” and “really frightening”.
Those with the illness say they, like others, are “chomping at the bit” to return to normal life but have urged more care and caution to be taken to protect the vulnerable.
From Monday, restrictions such as limits on gatherings and social distancing guidance will no longer be legal requirements, but recommendations on measures such as face coverings will remain.
Lara Montgomery, who was diagnosed with womb cancer in 2019, said the term “Freedom Day” did not “capture the feeling of the whole country”.
“I think the terminology of ‘Freedom Day’ is awful, it just doesn’t capture the feeling of the whole country,” she told the PA news agency.
“For a lot of people… it’s not freedom day at all.
“People are just going to become too relaxed (and) the situation for people like ourselves… is going to become really frightening.
Ms Montgomery said that with restrictions lifting she felt “growing fear” that the virus will spread uncontrollably, as many people would choose not to continue with voluntary measures.
“I think that from freedom day things won’t be as rigid and this is the effect of it, (Covid) ends up in our home despite us being so careful,” she said.
“It’s been a growing fear for us, I think initially we thought we could control it and stay safe and we could keep our own safety as a bubble but as things have gone on it’s become more difficult.
“I find going to the supermarket really frightening, because it’s where you have your personal space invaded the most.
“In most arenas you can stay fairly safe but you go shopping and people are reaching over and I can just see it, come Monday, very few people will wear masks.”
Ms Montomery’s wife Theresa, who was diagnosed leukaemia in November 2020, was recently admitted to hostpial after catching the virus from their son.
Speaking about her experience at the hospital, she said: “It was that point at which I thought this is really happening still.
“There are so many people who are contracting it and I think the stats recently show that, so how can Monday happen when it’s still in full flow?”
Others say that despite nerves they are eager to return to normal life and that “diligence” was needed to keep all members of society safe.
Krista Jay, a health and lifestyle coach who was diagnosed with rare POEMS Syndrome (Myeloma) in May 2020, said: “If I look at this from a bigger perspective we need to, as the whole world together, move on.
“However there is a nervousness about me around people thinking that everything is OK,” she told PA.
“What we need to do now even more is really pull together as a community and take responsibility for our own wellbeing, our own health and to understand that there are people out there that are more vulnerable.
“Just be diligent and keep everyone safe as well as yourself, I think that’s the most important thing moving forward.”
Ms Jay added that she had missed out on lots during the pandemic and would personally continue to take precautions.
“It does make me nervous and I still will be walking around wearing gloves and masks because I don’t really want to get sick again,” she said.
We’re all chomping at the bit, all of us, no matter where we’re from or what we do, who we are, what we’ve been through.Krista Jay
“It’s been hard. I haven’t been to the pub yet and I haven’t been able to go out to big social gatherings and I take precautions when I do simple activities like going to the supermarket.”
Asked how she would like others to behave, she said: “Just be mindful of other people.
“We’ve got to this point and we still need to be diligent and I think people wanting to go clubbing and stuff like that, that’s great, but just be sensible.
“It could be that you go clubbing and get Covid and the next day you’re not feeling great so you go to get some food from the local supermarket or McDonalds and it only takes that to pass it on to someone else.
“So even though it’s so-called Freedom Day, I think we need to be a little bit careful about how we go about doing things.
“That’s the most important thing because we’re all chomping at the bit, all of us, no matter where we’re from or what we do, who we are, what we’ve been through.
“We’re all wanting to get back to normal life, to be with our friends, to be with our families, to have fun and get back to some sort of normality.”