Coronavirus and Cancer

Washing hands

By: Virginia Barrette, MHA, American Cancer Society

I’m not sure about everyone else, but I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks thinking about the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s everywhere–social media, the nightly news, and in conversations with loved ones. As many of our lives have been disrupted, the impact is much greater for those living with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems.

Cancer patients and survivors are at a higher risk for serious illness with a COVID-19 infection. This not only impacts the patient, but their caregivers as well.  The best way to prevent a COVID-19 infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an informative video on preventing the spread of COVID-19 (you can find that video here).

How to Protect Yourself and Others

  1. Clean your hands often.
  2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  3. Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
  4. Cover coughs and sneezes.
  5. Wear a facemask if you are sick.
  6. Clean and disinfect surfaces.

While taking care of our physical health at this time is vitally important, we must not forget our mental health. Eating healthy, getting fresh air, physical activity, and plenty of sleep can help keep our moods boosted. The American Cancer Society has some great tips for taking care of our mental health during the coronavirus outbreak (available here).

As rumors spread and misinformation is shared, we ALL need to ensure we are looking to credible sources on COVID-19 related information. Turn to your health care providers and public health officials for accurate and timely information. They are the experts. Luckily, there are many reputable resources out there. Below are a list of my trusted resources, specific to cancer and COVID-19:

The American Cancer Society
https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/common-questions-about-the-new-coronavirus-outbreak.html

National Cancer Institute
https://www.cancer.gov/contact/emergency-preparedness/coronavirus

Center for Disease Control
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/

The Iowa Department of Public Health has timely resources available for COVID-19. The resources aren’t specific to cancer, but are very informative and updated daily (available here).

The bottom line is that this isn’t our “new normal”, but it is our “right now.”

Stay healthy, and stay safe. And remember that this too shall pass.

Virginia Barrette is a Health Systems Manager with the American Cancer Society working with Iowa’s Federally Qualified Health Centers. She serves on the board of directors for the Iowa Public Health Association and is a member of the Iowa Cancer Consortium. She is a self-declared ‘public health superfan’ and is passionate about immunizations.