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Cancer and Covid 19
3 Posts
Should us with Cancer take precautions such as getting a N95 mask, to prevent breathing in from someone who has yet to be fully diagnosed? I'm afraid to go get groceries, and fearful that I may come across someone who could make me sick.
12 Replies
Wendy Tea
1637 Posts
Colin11‍  Thank you for joining this site and sharing your story.  I can only tell you what I do to protect myself. I wash my hands before I leave home. I stay 6 feet away from others whenever possible. I dont touch my face when I go out. I go to small local markets or I go when they allow seniors only in the store. I use a credit card that I can tap.  I wash my hands when I get home. I clean the surfaces I have touched when coming into the house. There are some grocery stores that will deliver if you order on line. All we can do is our best to keep safe. Stay safe.
Cynthia Mac
2918 Posts
Colin11‍ , Personally, I’m finding that I have to do whatever it takes to keep my anxiety at a reasonable level. I don’t have anxiety normally, but these are some trying times.

If home delivery of groceries is what that will take, and if I can afford it, that’s what I will do. If I’m comfortable that the stores are cleaning things like carts and conveyor belts well enough, I will venture to the store. Wendy Tea‍ Gave you some good pointers for that, and I would wear gloves, just to add that extra barrier.

I’m a caregiver, so I’m more concerned about transmitting the disease to my “patient,” whereas you are (rightfully) more concerned about yourself. 
3 Posts
Thank You to both Wendy Tea and Cynthia Mac, for the suggestions.
I am formulating a plan to keep myself and those around me safe.
Welcome Colin11‍ . I think you are feeling what many of us are feeling. A cancer diagnosis will definitely amplify those thoughts.
I know many grocery stores around me are offering curbside pickup or delivery for either no fee or very reduced fee.
I hope this might be an option for you in order to have at least this stressor be manageable .

Take care
93 Posts
This is what I found out from the Cancer Clinic at Queensway Carlton Hospital in Ottawa
  • If you have an appointment then you will need to enter at a designated door. NOT Emergency where the virus patients are directed. So in this case you need to go to the main entrance for the Cancer Clinic. You will be directed to the correct door if you arrive at the wrong door. You will not be allowed to go in the wrong door. They were turning people away from where I went for the CT scan and telling them to go to a different door.
  • You will need to be screened before they let you into the hospital.
  • You are to go directly to where your appointment is and stay there. No wandering he hospital. There may be a designated washroom but I am not sure about that. I left the hospital after my CT scan last Friday and they would not let me in to use a washroom. ASK before you are out the door or preferably where your appointment was.
  • Expect that anything you touch or sit on will be wiped down shortly after you leave - including the chairs you sit on. But still be cautious about what you touch.
  • Wash those hands. Sanitize them do what ever it takes to remain safe.
  • If you want to wear a mask then wear it. It might feel foolish at first but I suspect you will even forget it is there. 
I was very impressed by the diligence of the staff in insuring that people go where they need to be and in keeping everything sanitary. I did not go into the Cancer Clinic. That will be my next trip hopefully on Tuesday.
12 Posts
Feeling helpless on how to support my mom who has extensive/stage 4 small cell lung cancer...with covid19 here, I am no longer permitted to attend appointments or chemo with her, or participate in her care at home. The hospital won't let my dad in with her either, I hate that she has to do this alone. How are others managing during this time? I took compassion leave from work at the beginning of March, now with the virus I cant even see her...
6252 Posts
I'm so very sorry for what you are going through ElleM‍ .   Being a caregiver  is hard enough but during these  times  is even more difficult.     Many hospitals are doing their best to set up on line and phone councelling to help people out.     They are doing things virtually.  Does your mom have access to any type  of technology? Can you face time or zoom with her?      The Canadian cancer  society  might be able to point you in the right direction  of what type of things you are able to do at this time to be able to support your mom.    1 888 939 3333.    There are resources out there that they may be able to refer you to.    You maybe able to order meals on wheels for her to help her out with meals.....And  for yourself.... go for walks....go on line and Google around.   YMCA   has on line programs all day long for free.      There are on line workouts... yoga... almost everything you can think of now. . You can connect to.     I know its not the same as in person but..... everything  helps..  the more resources you are aware of  the more you are able to help your mom and yourself.      
1 Posts
I am feeling the same way.. my husband has stage IV esophageal cancer that has spread to the liver  and I can no longer go with him to chemo or appointments.. to make matters worse my sister has advanced bladder cancer.. she lives in Toronto .. she only has days to live. 💔. this virus has prevented me from going out there as I am scared to bring anything home to my husband.. just so difficult to not be able to say goodbye to my sister and I am unable to be there  with my husband while he is going through all this as well..  don’t know how to support him with treatment when I can’t even be there!..I understand they are trying to keep everyone safe but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
Cynthia Mac
2918 Posts
ElleM‍ And lacinwpg‍ Welcome to Cancer Connection. These are trying times, indeed. I’m my Dad’s primary caregiver, and I saw him last week for the first time in a month, because I had gone on a trip in mid-February. Dad has lung cancer, so I wanted to wait a really long time to be sure I had no symptoms.

Elle, I want to tag WestCoastSailor‍ Into this conversation. He is living with stage 4 lung cancer (as is my Dad), and we talk about how to talk about “all this.” 

One suggestion that might help you for appointments would be to have them take their cell phone, and ask the doctor if they can phone you and have the appointment on speaker phone. That way, you can still be that “second set of ears” in the room, in a virtual manner. If you’re keeping a health journal (as I am for my Dad), you can take notes remotely.

lac, the virus is preventing you from travelling to your sister, but is there anything that can be done in the way of contacting her? Is she able to video call or e-mail? Sadly, even without this virus, you wouldn’t have been able to be in both places at once. Perhaps it would help you to write your goodbyes to your sister in a letter. Sometimes, writing out our feelings gives us the release we need.

We have adjusted Dad’s routine - he used to come to my place, and I would take him to his bloodwork appointment then wait the 2 hours to see his oncologist. Now, the oncologist doesn’t see him - Dad just goes to get his blood taken, then goes home and gets a call whether his chemo goes ahead. On chemo days, one of us drives out and brings him to his appointment (my sister did this while I was away and self-quarantining), drops him off at the hospital, and waits for him. Usually we get groceries for him while we are waiting. 

I encourage you to look for creative ways to support your loved ones: packing snacks for his treatments, writing notes and putting them in with “grocery drops.” I’m so grateful that we have the technology to be able to reach out in ways we couldn’t even 20 years ago.

Brighty‍ Also touched on the topic of self care. Be kind to yourself, and know that you’re doing the best you can. Find ways to “zone out” for a few minutes or hours once in a while - watch a favourite movie, pick up your knitting again if it’s been a while, or even take up meditation - just something that will give you an “island” from your stressors.
Colin11‍ , ElleM‍ , lacinwpg‍ 

Why do I get all the tough questions? I'm running out of words these days but i suspect that once I start typing the usual verbal diarrhea will kick in.

Why can't we have an interesting discussion like how to have sex while maintaining physical distancing or something? Seriously I was at a hospice annual meeting about a year ago when the social worker brought it up. You could hear the gasps in the room when she talked about how she arranged a tryst for one of her patients. And I thought "Awesome."

Some of what we need to do is practical. Washing hands, not touching face, physical distance. But I think where the real challenges lie are in the mental and emotional arena. As cancer patients we already have a leg up. We have developed resilience muscles. In some of the circles that I move people are looking to me for answers on how to cope with isolation. Still as caregivers we have the challenge of not being with the ones we love.

I have run into a couple of scenario's where the cell phone is used to connect at least sound but most modern smartphones allow "facetime" or some sort of video chat as well. We haven't done this before and doctors are still figuring out how to develop "webside manner" like they do "bedside manner" They know the importance of support people and are trying to find ways to provide it as best they can. Here is a link to where medical oncologists are at to give you a sense of some of the challenges that they face. (https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1245541661184229376.html) This fellow is pretty advanced from what I've seen and heard but I think we can challenge our medical professionals to these standards as best practices.

Recognize that Patient Privacy rules exist and they have to make sure that they are following them as best they can. That said, my wife couldn't come to any of my appointments so we recorded them all so that she could hear what was being said. She often contributed questions ahead of time for me to ask. I only had one doctor refuse to be recorded and she gave me a recorded summary of our discussion when the exam was over.

Asking what people need is one of the most important tools that we have. Listen to the answer. Be prepared to listen for what isn't being said. Listen to the emotion, the catch of breath, the silence. Acknowledge the difficulty of this situation. And then be creative. Find ways to express your love and your compassion.

My son is dropping off groceries for me tomorrow. And then sometime during the week he is going to head back to Edmonton. He may not come (back for work reasons) and I may not make it through this crisis. I have a huge dilemma. Do I respect his wish to not hug him? He doesn't want the guilt of knowing that he might give me covid-19. Or do I follow my heart and give him that hug knowing that I may never see him again? And knowing some of my nosy neighbours that the hug could cost us $5000 for not following social distancing rules. Yeah it's hard and I don't have the answer.

I'm done.

How are you doing Colin11‍ ? Have you figured out a grocery shopping arrangement that is working for you? 

ElleM‍ and lacinwpg‍  how are things going with your loved ones today?


Colin11, as with the other comments made here, as a caregiver, I am worried about the potential my exposure to the corona virus might have on my Mom.  Although my sister is Mom's primary caregiver, I am trying to go every two weeks so that I can be with Mom and to give my sister a bit of respite.  When I run errands I am astounded at how indifferent some people are to the risks and how downright callous others are to respecting the 2m distancing.  Although I have been observing the self-quarantine and hygiene protocols carefully, I am always worried about what is not known about how this virus spreads so I never take for granted that I am not exposed.  I am conflicted by which is more risky - going myself or trusting strangers.  So I go myself because my experience has taught me that over promise and under deliver seems to be the standard for most services.  I'm sorry if this sounds cynical, but if it is a choice between trusting others to keep me safe and me being safe, I have to do what I have to do.
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