Navigating Breast Cancer During the Pandemic
If this year has taught us anything it’s that things can change in an instant. The uncertainty of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic changes almost daily and if you’re navigating breast cancer you might have even more questions about your health and treatment. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers from the National Cancer Institute about COVID-19 and cancer.
If I have cancer how can I protect myself?
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 or specific treatment for it. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following actions to help people at high risk for developing serious illness from COVID-19 stay healthy:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; and before and after coming in contact with others
- Stay home as much as possible
- Make sure you have access to several weeks of medication and supplies in case you need to stay home for prolonged periods of time
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, including doorknobs, light switches, keyboards, countertops, phones, handles, faucets, sinks, and toilets
If you must go out in public:
- Stay at least 6 feet away from other people
- Avoid crowded places
- Wear a cloth face covering; be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing it; and wash your hands right after removal
I receive cancer treatment at a medical facility. What should I do about getting treatment?
If you are receiving treatment for your cancer, please call your health care provider before going to your next treatment appointment and follow their guidance. As health care systems adjust their activities to address COVID-19, doctors treating cancer patients may also have to change when and how cancer treatment and follow-up visits are carried out. The risk of missing a cancer treatment or medical appointment must be weighed against the possibility of exposing a patient to infection.
Some cancer treatments can be safely delayed, whereas others cannot. Some routine follow-up visits may be safely delayed or conducted through telemedicine. If you take oral cancer drugs, you may be able to have prescribed treatments sent directly to you, so you don’t have to go to a pharmacy. A hospital or other medical facility may ask you to go to a specific clinic, away from those treating people sick with coronavirus.
The coronavirus situation is changing daily, with states and cities making changes in how they are handling quarantine and critical health care, so check with your provider as needed.
What should I do if I have symptoms of an infection?
Call your health care provider if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and have symptoms of an infection.
This is a stressful time. How do I cope?
Coping with cancer in the face of the coronavirus can bring up a wide range of feelings you’re not used to dealing with. Learn more about feelings you may have and ways to cope with them.
What if I have additional questions?
NCI’s Cancer Information Service (CIS) can help answer questions that you or a loved one may have about COVID-19 or your care.
To reach the CIS: Call 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET in English or Spanish. After business hours, recorded information is available.
Online LiveHelp® chat offers online assistance in English and Spanish Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.
Pink Ribbons Mastectomy & Lymphedema Boutique will strive to assist each woman who comes through our doors to regain or maintain her self-esteem and good body image that was altered during and after her breast cancer treatment. We will strive to make every woman feel complete and balanced through properly fit and beautiful garments. For more information, visit our website or give us a call at 901-417-6060. Follow us on Facebook!