Coronavirus and Cancer
Cancer patients and caregivers grapple to live wisely and find peace in the new world of COVID-19.
By Chris Lawrence
Perhaps you or someone you love is fighting cancer, and the coronavirus (COVID-19) just adds insult to injury. Life was already challenging enough; this illness just increases the fear and uncertainty.
One of your biggest concerns is that a compromised immune system increases the risk of getting coronavirus. The common result of undergoing treatment, especially chemotherapy, is that it reduces red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, which diminishes the capacity to fight infection. This reduced capacity can remain for months after treatment is finished.
Medical experts consider cancer an “underlying medical condition” that adds to the risks of coronavirus.
The cancer treatment dilemma
Another problem is not having the luxury of just stopping treatment. Though many habits of meetings and commerce have changed as a result of coronavirus, you often still need regular medical care, like infusions. These appointments require trips to a medical facility, thereby increasing your risk of exposure. Not only that, the process of getting care has become more complicated and often includes delays.
According to a survey conducted by the American Cancer Society, 79 percent of cancer patients reported delays in care due to COVID-19. And for cancer patients, these set backs cause frustration and even increase fear.
The coronavirus also raises the fear about the capacity of our medical system. If more waves of coronavirus continue to come, some bigger than what we’ve experienced, then it could possibly tax our healthcare resources, perhaps leaving you wondering if the care you or your loved one needs will be available.
Even as America and much of the world has cautiously attempted to return to normal—or a least a new normal—the fear and uncertainty of the coronavirus remains. Will there be additional waves of the virus? Or will the cases continue to decrease? How can people with cancer live life as normally as possible, while still being careful?
The circumstances increase the uncertainty for people like you who were already facing uncertainties.
Some good resources
Fortunately, there are some great resources out there, including this one from the National Cancer Institute.
The above resource answers some of the common questions, like if I have cancer, am I at a higher risk? If I am a cancer survivor do I have an increased risk? How can a I protect myself from the risks?
Here is another great resource by the Mesothelioma Center. As we continue to learn more about coronavirus, we are seeing that certain cancers and conditions present dangerous complications, including: lung cancer, mesothelioma, head and neck cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the Mesothelioma Center.
Beyond these resources, your doctor remains an excellent resource for understanding coronavirus and how to protect yourself from it. However, at this point, as they will admit, no person has all of the answers on how to handle coronavirus.
How to find peace amidst uncertainty
There are still risks and unknowns about the coronavirus that look to continue for a long time.
And for people with cancer, it just adds an extra burden to the challenges they already face.
Yet, even as fear ramps up, what if there is a gift of peace that we can experience in the midst of it? What if peace was actually what you needed most, the answer to whatever problems threaten you today, tomorrow or in the coming weeks?
What if peace wasn’t found in a pill or medicine, but somewhere else?
For more about how you can experience this peace, read The Gift of Peace.
Note: We are not doctors and we cannot answer your medical questions. However, we welcome your questions about finding hope and knowing God.