Carla Van Wyck-MacDonald lives near Shallow Lake, Ontario with her husband and their four children, ages 9, 11, 13 and 14. Carla was initially diagnosed with breast cancer two years after her mother died from the same disease.
When the COVID-19 pandemic was first declared in March 2019, there was a lack of information about the virus. As time went on and more and more research was conducted, we were able to learn more about how the virus worked, who it was infecting, its symptoms and more. One of the pieces of information from this research was that cancer patients were more likely to have adverse outcomes if diagnosed. Although there was not enough evidence to pinpoint which cancers made individuals more susceptible or enough research to definitively say whether past and present patients had the same concerns, the few findings were enough to label individuals diagnosed with cancer as high-risk. Of course, one’s risk level is dependent on many different factors and varies from person to person.
Individuals diagnosed with cancer have been identified as being at a high-risk of getting seriously ill if they get COVID-19. Data from various studies show that the type of cancer, the stage, the person’s age, health, and other factors contribute to how high-risk a patient may be. In addition to this, the type of treatment a person is receiving and how long their last treatment was, can all impact their outcome. At the same time, a few studies have shown that breast cancer patients fare better, compared to patients with other types of cancers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly concerning and challenging for many cancer patients and their families. As you’ve most likely heard by now, cancer patients and survivors may be at higher risk of complications from COVID-19 because cancer and cancer treatments can contribute to weakened immune systems. This has left many patients with questions on how best to navigate their cancer care, including whether it is safe to continue their treatment, will their health care be de-prioritized by the healthcare system and how they can reduce their risk of contracting the virus.
Breast cancer prepared me for COVID. Actually, if I want to be really accurate, radiation prepared me for it and almost everything else that has come courtesy of the global pandemic.
Dealing with breast cancer is challenging at the best of times, but in this time of uncertainty and when our health care system is having to quickly adapt to the impact of COVID-19, cancer patients are facing increased challenges and changes to treatment schedules and doctors’ appointments. This can bring additional anxiety and questions around how these changes will impact the success of treatments.
By now we've all heard the tips for how to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic: wash your hands, stay at home and practice social distancing. However, what might not be as widely shared and known is why and how these health tips help. While protecting yourself, your family and your community is important, equally important is understanding why you are being told to do certain things and how they help. Therefore, we’ve decided to explore the benefits and reasoning behind the two most repeated and shared mantras amidst the COVID-19 crisis.