Martha Raymond is the Founder/CEO of The Raymond Foundation and also serves as the Founding Executive Director of the GI Cancers Alliance.
As millions of people face a “new normal” during the COVID-19 pandemic, patients with cancer can teach others about the resilience needed to face the unknown.
Those who have experienced cancer can teach others about resilience and fearlessness in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, says Martha Raymond.
The social isolation and fear of infection that many individuals are currently living with are already familiar to patients who have gone through cancer treatment, said the founder of the Raymond Foundation. Being familiar with the disruption and anxiety that comes with cancer gives patients a strength that others can learn from.
“I think there’s a lot that all of us can learn from cancer patients as we all go through this unprecedented pandemic.”
It really is a challenging time for the patient community, for sure. Things have resounded with us through our patient navigators and support groups, patients have an increased level of anxiety. Many are worried if they will be able to get their treatments as planned as many treatments have had to be postponed. Many patients are not able to get their scheduled scans, for example, PET scans or MRIs or CAT scans, to really determine if treatment is working, so that is very anxiety-producing.
And then, of course, so many clinical trials have stopped. So, patients who are looking for possible clinical trial enrollment as a line of therapy, in so many cases, a crucial need where time is of the essence for these individuals. It really is a stressful time.
One thing I would say, and it’s really remarkable for the cancer patient community, is even in times of this increased anxiety and stress due to COVID-19, cancer patients are so resilient. I think they show that every day. So many have said to me that they’ve lived this “new normal”. They’ve been in isolation; they’ve been worried about being immunocompromised. They’ve distanced themselves for so long anyway because they were worried that they might catch the flu or catch something.
So, while I think that while patients are struggling, it really speaks to their resilience and their courage to be able to say okay, we’ve got this. We understand what we have to do and we’re going to do everything we can to stay healthy. If we have to postpone a treatment or if we have to postpone a scan, then that’s what we have to do.
With all the scariness and the anxiety, I think it’s another opportunity for all of us to say, boy, these cancer patients, they have that strength and courage, and really are fearless when it comes to tackling a new obstacle in their way. I think there’s a lot that all of us can learn from cancer patients as we all go through this unprecedented pandemic.