Ryan Hamner is a four-time survivor of Hodgkin lymphoma, a musician, and an award-winning author. In 2011, he wrote and recorded, "Where Hope Lives" for the American Cancer Society and the song for survivors, "Survivors Survive" used in 2015 for #WorldCancerDay. Recently, he published his book, This is Remission: A Four-Time Cancer Survivor's Memories of Treatment, Struggle, and Life, available on Amazon. His website is www.ryanhamner.com
Cancer treatment has taught many survivors how to combat infection, a useful skill to adjusting life amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
I have lots of questions about COVID-19 — about the numbers, the treatment, the testing and how it could impact someone like me with my history of cancer and cancer treatment. These are probably some of the same questions that many others have.
However, if there is one thing I'm pretty familiar with it's taking the steps necessary to lessen my chances of becoming infected. Assuming I wasn't infected already at some point and didn't know it.
Like many cancer survivors, I once lived in a bit of a bubble. For example, when I was a kid going through cancer treatment, and even during my final bout with lymphoma at age 21, wearing a mask in my limited outings was a somewhat normal procedure.
As a kid, this meant not going to the movies, playgrounds and the mall. I also remember the days of not being able to go to Showbiz Pizza. Wow, can you imagine? That was the happening spot for kids during the 80s, and talk about a way to build up your immune system!
Living this sort of limited life can be a bit of a downer as a kid. However, not being careful and not staying out of crowds during cancer treatment could, without a doubt, have had severe consequences.
For me, trying to prevent COVID-19 infection means going back to living as I lived during my days of intense chemotherapy. It means staying out of crowds, washing my hands regularly, getting rest, rinsing my mouth, getting the proper nutrition, and of course not licking doorknobs. Wait, I never licked doorknobs anyway.
One of the biggest challenges of living in my current situation is finding balance. Before COVID-19 this meant work, working out, hanging out at the coffee shop and working a little more at home. But, like virtually everyone else, I've had to make significant adjustments.
For example, lately, instead of weights and a punching bag, my workout now is made up of long walks around my apartment complex, strength exercises using only my body weight and shadowboxing. Although I will admit, yesterday I was doing some shoulder exercises with jugs of water.
For me, my approach to getting through COVID-19 will be to organize, assess and adjust. I'll continue to be careful, mindful, and most importantly, hopeful.