COVID-19 and Breast Cancer: Resources and Updates for March 29th to April 4th
If you think that you may have the COVID-19 virus, you can use this self-assessment tool. Links to the COVID-19 response from each province and territory, as well as their telehealth contact information, can be found here.
Your Questions Answered
Q: Is the study on cancer patients being high risk suggesting that people who had cancer a long time ago are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 and of poorer outcomes?
A: The study is essentially saying that those who have been diagnosed with cancer are at greater risk of becoming severely sick if they contract COVID-19 (compared to the general public), even if they are no longer currently living with a cancer diagnosis. As more data is reviewed and more studies are done, we'll be able to better understand who is at the highest risk.
Q: I am a breast cancer survivor and my surgery was followed by radiation therapy, which ended April 2018. Should I still consider myself immune compromised?
A: There is no definitive answer on how long cancer survivors are still considered high-risk due to the current lack of data. However, there is a study that discusses this briefly. While someone who has been out of active treatment for two years is most likely at a reduced risk to develop serious complications from COVID-19 than someone who is currently in active treatment, they still may be at a greater risk than the general population.
Because COVID-19 is still new and information analyzing the impact on cancer patients is scarce, we currently don't have additional information about how much the risk decreases the further out a patient is from their treatment. It's been suggested that those who finished their treatment a long time ago have a lower risk of infection if they are younger and generally healthy and their risk is higher if they are over 65 or have other health conditions.
The best course of action for anyone, but especially for those at increased risk of complications from COVID-19, is to limit contact with as many people as possible and practice social distancing in the instances where you have to be around other people.
Q: I am a breast cancer survivor and I am worried about my immune system in relation to COVID-19 as I work at a business that has been deemed essential. Should I be working during this time? Are there any financial supports that I can use if I shouldn’t be at work?
A: As of right now, there aren't financial resources specifically for immunocompromised individuals who choose to stay home to lower their risk. However, employers may be able to make accommodations to help individuals in this type of situation. Ask your employer if:
- Accommodations can be made to expose you to less risk/people in your workplace
- You have access to sick leave that could be used in this specific circumstance for a pre-existing condition of breast cancer
- You can take a temporary leave that would allow you to keep your employment but access government subsidies during the immediate health crisis
Q: Do high risk individuals qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) being offered by the Government?
A: The Government of Canada website outlines who is eligible for CERB. One of the requirements is that you have stopped work because of COVID-19 but it does not go into detail of eligible reasons to stop work. An article from Unifor outlines reasons that you may have stopped working due to COVID-19 while still being eligible for CERB. The reasons for stopping work and being eligible for CERB are for those who:
Have been terminated or laid off
Are sick, quarantined, in self-isolation or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19; or
Are working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children due to illness or school/daycare closures.
For now, it doesn’t look like CERB specifically addresses high-risk individuals.
General COVID-19 Resources
Rolling updates on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from World Health Organization
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update from Public Health Agency of Canada
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters from World Health Organization
Health products that make false or misleading claims to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19 may put your health at risk from Health Canada
Cancer and COVID-19 Resources
Coronavirus has an impact on clinical trial participants from Canadian Cancer Trials Group
PATIENTS┃UPDATE ON COVID-19 AND CLINICAL TRIALS IN ONCOLOGY from Q-CROC
Common Questions About Coronavirus 2019 and Cancer: Answers for Patients and Survivors from Cancer.Net
Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 from cancer patients are available from the following provinces:
British Columbia - FAQ for BC Cancer patients about novel coronavirus COVID-19 from BC Cancer
Manitoba - Information for Cancer Patients on COVID-19 from CancerCare Manitoba
Nova Scotia - Cancer and Coronavirus from Nova Scotia Health Authority
Saskatchewan - FAQs for cancer patients about novel coronavirus COVID-19 from Saskatchewan Cancer Agency
Breast Cancer and COVID-19 Resources
Questions about coronavirus and breast cancer from Living Beyond Breast Cancer
Mental Health Resources
Metastatic breast cancer and COVID-19 anxiety from Living Beyond Breast Cancer
Stress and Coping from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Mental Health and the COVID-19 Pandemic from The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Apply for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) with CRA from the Government of Canada
Resources for Canadian Businesses from the Government of Canada
Support for entrepreneurs impacted by the coronavirus COVID-19 from Business Development Bank of Canada
CERB, EI Or Wage Subsidy? What COVID-19 Financial Assistance Do You Qualify For? from HuffPost Canada
Specific financial resources are available from the following provinces:
Alberta - COVID-19 Support for Employers and Employees
British Columbia - Financial Supports in Response to COVID-19
New Brunswick - The New Brunswick Workers Emergency Income Benefit
Nova Scotia - Support for Nova Scotians, businesses and health care
Ontario - Online Application for Social Assistance
Prince Edward Island - COVID-19 Income Support Fund
Quebec - Programme d’aide temporaire aux travailleurs (PATT COVID-19)
Saskatchewan - Self-Isolation Support Program
Resources for Parents
Helping children cope with stress during the 2019-nCoV outbreak from World Health Organization
Talking to children about COVID-19 and its impact from The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Working or Staying at Home
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): How to quarantine (self-isolate) at home when you may have been exposed and have no symptoms from Public Health Agency of Canada
Halifax oncologist Dr. Rob Rutledge and healingandcancer.org are offering a free interactive video conference and lecture series during the COVID-19 crisis. This video series is for cancer patients or caregivers who are at home and in need of support. The weekly series will be held on Sundays at 7pm AST / 6pm EST / 3pm PST, every week for six weeks. Join the Zoom Meeting here.