Panic, a pandemic, and general pandemonium have all lately been sweeping the world. But for a cancer patient or caregiver, your world was already being rocked daily—Coronavirus is just the icing on the proverbial cake. It’s a concerning development for everyone, but especially for those at high-risk.
I’ve found that a lot of articles on this topic have the same few tips of washing your hands and such— not much more. The question begs to be asked: what are the other ways a cancer patient can stay safe during the COVID-19 outbreak? Well, I’ll try my best to answer that in this blog.
I think it’s important that say that I, nor anyone at Canplan is a medical professional. We’re just people who did some research and would like to present that research to you in a digestible and helpful way.
So, here is: How Cancer Patients Can Care for Themselves During the Coronavirus outbreak.
1. Worried or have symptoms? Connect with your doctor or team online.
Many medical experts recommend you don’t go to the hospital unless your treatment is pivotal.
It’s best to connect with your doctor and ask if you should still attend regular treatment during this present time. Good questions to ask are:
- What is my potential risk to the Coronavirus?
- What can I do to stay safe?
- What impact does this have on the treatment I’m receiving?
Here are some more examples of good questions to ask: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/low-blood-counts/infections/questions-to-ask-about-coronavirus.html
If you feel like you might have the infection, contact your doctor or oncology team to find out your next steps.
2. Only fly to an appointment if absolutely necessary.
I remember when I went on plane trips as a perfectly healthy kid, my mom still would pump be with vitamins before and after the flights.
There are all kinds of germs on planes; always have been. But now, understandably, plane flights are a lot more alarming than they were before.
If you must get on a plane to receive treatment, then: avoid crowds at the airport, wash your hands often, and wipe down your seat, arm rests, and tray before you touch them.
If you have an appointment scheduled that you can only get to by plane and it is not necessary for your health, then it’s best you stay home.
This is recommended by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, who have an hour podcast that gives good information on Coronavirus and how cancer patients should navigate it here below, if you are interested:
3. Don't stop going outside and getting your fresh air.
Though it’s wise to stay home and avoid coming in contact with large groups of potentially infected people, it’s still good to get some time outside—if that is possible for you.
Having time outside can give you vitamin D, healthy chemicals that emanate from plants, and a feeling of ‘calm’.
It’s still recommended that you find a way to get outside during these times—just avoid people. Remember the 6-feet- apart rule, and if you can, try to go in the morning when fewer people are out.
4. Have someone go to the store for you, if you need.
With the herds of people out at the store buying all that they can, it’s best you avoid the store as a cancer patient.
Once you’ve spoken to your doctor, they’ll let you know how at- risk you are (though perhaps you already know.)
If you’re at a high risk, have a caregiver or family member go to the store for you.
If you’re at the lower end of the spectrum, you can probably get away with going yourself. Just make sure you wipe everything down before you touch it, sanitize your hands, and don’t touch your face. Then wash your hands once you get home before touching anything.
5. The Basics:
I avoided making this the first point, as most of you readers have probably read this a million times before. But in case you haven’t, here you are:
a. Do your best to avoid people and practice social distancing. Stay 6 feet apart from those you can.
Understandably, if you have a caregiver that needs to be very hands- on, this isn’t doable. That’s ok.
Just limit the number of people coming into contact with you, and if you have a hands- on caregiver (s), make sure they are strictly following the social- distancing rule.
b. Use hand- sanitizer often
c. Wipe down surfaces before you touch them. The virus can survive for a long time (I’ve even heard for up to three days) on some surfaces.
So just be careful (as I’m sure you have been), and wipe down the surfaces you can. Then wash your hands after touching the ones you can't. Speaking of…
d. Wash your hands often (with soap and hot water, and for 20 seconds). Some songs to hum while you do this to ensure you’ve done the job properly are:
The chorus of ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘The Imperial March’, ‘La Cucaracha’ for you Spanish speakers, the chorus of ‘Africa’, and of course, ‘Happy Birthday’ (twice).
6. Take care of your mental health.
In a time where physical health is being so heavily discussed, please don’t forget about your emotional and mental well- being.
If you need to do positivity exercises, breathing exercises ect, make the time for them.
Do whatever you can to overcome the fear. So many people are bound to it right now as they’re glued to the rising statistics and predictions of the future. Though it’s an easy trap to fall into, remember that you don’t have to.
Keep a steady head, and prepare yourself for whatever may come, but remember: you don’t need to freak out.
It’s not wrong to have a healthy caution, but just remind yourself that the odds of catching this is rare—especially if you take the precautions.
There’s no denying that these are crazy times. But that doesn't mean you have to drive yourself crazy with worry.
Bear in mind that even though the news makes it seem the opposite at times, this is still a rare disease to catch.
Take the basic precautions, and if you are concerned or at high- risk, continue to stay at home, and have others run errands for you.
When/ if you need to go out, just be careful and call your doctor if any new symptoms ever do develop.
If you know any tips, have any additional questions, or want more resources, don't hesitate to write a comment!