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Articles by G van Londen, MD

Dr. van Londen is a cancer provider/medical oncologist and a cancer survivor. Born and raised in The Netherlands, she has migrated to the USA where she completed a medical residency, as well as fellowships in medical oncology and geriatric medicine. She has practiced medicine in the USA for nearly 20 years at a large health care system in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Her background has prepared her to handle diverse and complicated cases. She specializes in: 1) Treating newly diagnosed, older breast cancer patients by performing a geriatric assessment and creating a personalized, multidisciplinary treatment plan that aims to respect patient’s preferences and desire for independence. 2) Cancer survivorship care to prevent/support the late/long-term post-treatment needs of cancer survivors of any gender and tumor type (and their caregivers). Together with a village of various supportive care providers, she performs clinical, research, and educational activities to empower cancer survivors (and their caregivers and providers) to support the post-treatment emotional, physical, and functional needs of cancer survivors. The content of this domain is protected. Entries and replies are not endorsements. Views are mine. No COI.
COVID Vaccine Safety in Cancer Patients

COVID Vaccine Safety in Cancer Patients

I hope you will find this post helpful. It was created in response to many inquiries about the different types of vaccinations that were made in the past. As well as which types of vaccines are now used to create the COVID vaccines.

And here is a link in which Dr. Fauci comments on COVID vaccine safety for cancer patients – several key quotes of this article are pasted below (but please read the entire link for more details):

Safety of COVID vaccine in cancer patients:

Live vaccine should be avoided in immunocompromised patients, and currently, live SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are only being developed in India and Turkey.

“I am 100% with Fauci. Everyone should get the vaccine, even if it may not be as effective,” he said. “I would treat it exactly like the flu vaccines that we recommend folks get every year.”

Given the lack of data, the FDA has said that “it will be something that providers will need to consider on an individual basis,” and that individuals should consult with physicians to weigh the potential benefits and potential risks.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has said that clinicians need more guidance on whether to use the vaccine in pregnant or breastfeeding women, the immunocompromised, or those who have a history of allergies. The CDC itself has not yet released its formal guidance on vaccine use.

Effectiveness of COVID vaccine in cancer patients:

Philip D Bonomi, MD, a professor of medical oncology at Rush Medical College, Chicago, explained that one way to ensure a more optimal response to the vaccine would be to wait until the patient has finished chemotherapy. “The vaccine can be offered at that time, and in the meantime, they can take other steps to avoid infection,” he said. “If they are very immunosuppressed, it isn’t worth trying to give the vaccine.”

Cancer patients should be encouraged to stay as healthy as possible, and to wear masks and social distance. “It’s a comprehensive approach. Eat healthy, avoid alcohol and tobacco, and exercise. [These things] will help boost the immune system,” Bonomi said. “Family members should be encouraged to get vaccinated, which will help them avoid infection and exposing the patient.”

Jim Boonyaratanakornkit, MD, PhD, an infectious disease specialist who cares for cancer patients at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, agreed. “Giving a vaccine right after a transplant is a futile endeavor,” he said. “We need to wait 6 months to have an immune response.”

Cancer: Am I Going Crazy?

Cancer: Am I Going Crazy?

Almost everyone who is on a cancer journey will wonder at some point, ”Am I going crazy?” This may be one of the best kept secrets that each of us carries.

You may feel you are going crazy or “losing it” when your brain is overwhelmed, desperate, or conflicted by competing priorities like trying to handle your daily responsibilities while dealing with fear of death and prematurely reflecting on your life. This is a scary experience. It can make you feel embarrassed, ashamed, alone, and misunderstood. You may begin to see the world through a negative lens, becoming overly critical about past actions or becoming a doom thinker about the future. This often perpetuates the vicious cycle of isolation and lack of support. 

There is not one magical solution for this suffocating mountain of pressure and doom, but being aware of these dynamics can be half of the solution. It will help you try to find a way to break down your responsibilities into smaller steps, manage your time better or ask for help from others. Reaching out to those whom you feel can support you, changing your perspective, or finding a method to express your inner fears, such as talking, writing, singing, or painting can help.

These changes may be slow and subtle in the beginning, but as you gain momentum, growth can begin, allowing surviving to become thriving. 

Remember that there is no manual that will help resolve everyone’s stress. We are all winging it, even if we look like we always have it together. And really, what is normal, anyway? 

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