Cancer and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
How are you? Really…?! It has been a brutal week for many. For me too, as a loved one, friend, and provider, but also as a patient, as my surveillance testing has been delayed by a few months.
Like you, I find myself homebound, trying to find a new normal for the time being.
I thought I would write a quick post for not only cancer survivors, but those who find themselves in the midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
- Medical resources (these get updated regularly as needed):
- For general public:
- For cancer survivors – American Society of Clinical Oncology:
- General Coping Strategies:
- Be kind to yourself and others. There is not one normal emotional reaction to a global (and terrifying) crisis like this. It affects all of us differently. If you have been traumatized before then these same thoughts/feelings can be easily triggered by other overwhelming experiences like this epidemic. And for some of you, your treatment regimens may be changed around. Please know that organizations and institutions do not make these decisions lightly. They look at each situation on a case-by-base basis and strive to minimize the impact on the patient’s health outcomes. Being stuck in this state of uncertainty between two life-threatening choices, a rock and a hard place, is an impossible place to be for anyone. Please remind yourself that we are all unique. Allow yourself time to transition, to become aware and experience your feelings on your own and/or by talking with others. If you feel the walls are closing in on you while you are quarantined — no pun intended — or if you are experiencing financial stress, please rise above your feelings of shame or guilt, and reach out for support!
- Educate yourself by following reputable resources that are updated frequently to respond to this rapidly-evolving series of events, such as the ones listed above. Information can be comforting and empowering. Following the recommended preventive measures may give us a sense of control and togetherness. However, don’t let information consume you. Too much information may result in anxiety and panic.
- Keeping a physical distance does not have to result in social isolation! However, nothing can replace the in-person experience of a major event (such as a wedding, funeral, or even a moment the passing of a loved one). This can be heartbreaking and soul-crunching. These once-in-a-lifetime moments have been taken away by a force de majeur. No one can control this. You will never forget the pain of not being able to be there, but hopefully the passing of time will allow the sting to become less intense. Modern communication tools, including a landline, are there to allow us to safely connect with others and to creatively still be able to commemorate a special event.
- Distract yourself from your negative thoughts with everything from necessities (such as chores) to fun activities, in solitude or with others. Perhaps now is the time to connect with a person you have been meaning to call for a long time or to pick up a hobby that your life ordinarily has no space for. Even try doing absolutely nothing. (It’s hard to do. I challenge you!) The silver lining of this terrible time for our world might be that you have the opportunity to pursue new experiences that you may want to continue even after the pandemic has dissipated.
I wish you all the strength you need to endure the following few weeks to months. Be kind to yourself and others….together we stand strong!
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