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COVID-19 and Cancer Patients

by Jennifer AnandSurvivor, Hodgkin’s LymphomaMarch 16, 2020View more posts from Jennifer Anand

Cancer Muggles, Don’t Forget About Us!

Self-isolation. With COVD-19, that’s what I’m hearing from everyone now. Aldi was completely sold out of meat, and almost of veggies. Sam’s Club was sold out of rice. Everyone, of course, is sold out of toilet paper.

But this is nothing new for us- the cancer peeps. We are no strangers to masks, Purell, washing our hands (properly) and so many other things the general population has no idea about.

My job consists of visiting my clients, which range from hospitals, to manufacturing, to universities, and everything in between. My manager called and let me know he made sure I wasn’t visiting high-risk places for me (hospitals, nursing homes) as he knows I’m diabetic, and he saw that was one of the risk categories for COVD-19. What he doesn’t know is that I hit all the risk markers for every COVD-19 high-risk category- lung issues, heart issues, immunocompromised…the only thing I got going for me is that I’m not over 60!

Some of my friends are making light of this…they feel the world is overreacting. If I were in their shoes, I think I would agree. But I’m not. I’m in the shoes of a 25-yr old that the common flu can knock flat on her back for a week. I could die from this.

CancerCon was cancelled. It was inevitable, after events like SXSW for non-immunocompromised people were cancelled, and it was in Seattle, but it still stings. Pat Taylor, a gracious cancer mom who always attends, posted on her FB that “I know this is a yearly event that lifts the spirits of many AYA cancer survivors/thrivers”. She’s so right. There are so many online chats, and video lectures, and other electronic ways to disperse the information. But I miss the community. I miss the thrill of meeting other cancer peeps at the airport, all bearing the same Stupid Cancer luggage tag. I miss randomly talking to strangers, because they also share your red survivor lanyard. I miss the non-judgement of whatever you are eating, because we all have weird taste sensitivities or diet restrictions thanks to cancer. I miss community.

So in these next few weeks, as the general population continues to do stupid things like buy out all the hand soap, attend large events, sneeze into their hands, and so much more, we will sit in our home, hopefully with a loving animal, but so many of us by ourselves, and we will recount the days we have sat alone before. The days we sat alone in a hospital bed, waiting for the nurses to do their 2-hr checks just so we could see a kind face. The days we sat staring at our phones, desperately wishing it would ring, but knowing it probably wouldn’t as all your college friends were out enjoying life on a Saturday. The Friday nights we sat alone in quiet contemplation, of not having the energy to go out and party. The many times the loneliness we feel inside was mirrored in our surroundings, devoid of friends. We knew the pain of social isolation long before COVD-19, and we will feel the effects long after the coronavirus is written in history books. Let’s reach out to each other, support each other, albeit through technology, and not in person like we’d like.

And to the cancer muggles reading this- don’t forget about us. In times like these, we aren’t going to join your gatherings, no matter how small they may be. But try to Skype us in. Call us, text us, drop us off some food and games, don’t forget that while you may not be worried about getting COVD-19, your cancer counterparts very much are.

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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