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Cancer vs Coronavirus

by Amanda FerraroSurvivor, LeukemiaOctober 13, 2020View more posts from Amanda Ferraro

This article originally ran on Amanda’s blog

As a cancer patient, the only silver lining that I can currently think of during a global pandemic is that our oncology team has prepared us so very well.

When you have been diagnosed with cancer, a lot of things change. Your schedule gets all kind of crazy and you are put into a situation in which you are fighting for your life every single day. Not all cancer patients have the same treatment routine, but I have found that almost all cancer patients have been told to follow some of the same guidelines to keep their fragile immune system from falling apart. These guidelines coincide with keeping healthy during the global pandemic as well.

We are told that we should Social Distance yourself when we are first diagnosed with cancer. Because our immune system is very weak our bodies are using all its might to fight off the cancer cells. Even the smallest of colds could be land us in the hospital. Oncology teams usually suggest that when you are starting treatment you stay away from family and friends (especially if they are sick) for your own safety. Usually this will continue throughout all your treatment until your counts normalize.

Next is wearing a mask. During your cancer diagnosis is vital to try and stay as healthy as possible. Wearing a mask can help prevent the germs of others from getting to you. If your immune system is compromised, wearing a mask may be one the best ways to prevent catching an illness.

Washing your hands is super important also. We are taught from an early age that washing your hands helps kill germs and that is true. By washing your hands for at least 20 seconds you can kill up to 99% of germs off your hands. If you take a second to stop and think about all of the surfaces that you touch with your hands, and the different germs that can be present on those surfaces, it can be vital to your health to make sure your hands are washed.

My oncology team also suggested to avoid public spaces. As a cancer patient I think this was one of the hardest things for me to follow. I love going to the mall and just strolling around. However, in public spaces there are many uncertainties. You do not know if people are sick or not, or what types of germs they are carrying. Some individuals may not have any signs or symptoms of being sick, but they can carry germs to others and infect them. It is just not safe.

Maintaining a healthy diet is another important thing you can do for your health. There are many foods that are highly processed, packed with sugar and coated with germs from people touching them. Whether you shop for yourself of order from a delivery service, it is important to choose foods that will help your immune system. Some foods I added to my diet with the suggestion of my nutritionist were berries, turmeric, ginger, fresh vegetables, wheatgrass, pumpkin seeds, and pineapple. There are many guides online or at your hospitals nutritionist’s office that you can find to help you. Remember, before eating any fresh produce make sure to wash it thoroughly.

We, as cancer patients, are lucky to have amazing oncology teams that support us and share life saving tips with us. Although there is a lot of stress and anxiety going on during this time, I hope this article can give you a little bit of hope in knowing you are doing all the right things to stay as healthy as possible.

All of the posts written for Elephants and Tea are contributed by patients, survivors, caregivers and loved ones dealing with cancer.  If you have a story or experience you would like to share with the cancer community we would love to hear from you!  Please submit your idea at

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