Patients With Cancer in Ukraine Are Fighting on More Than One Front

My heart breaks for patients with cancer and other health conditions who are forced to flee the war-torn Ukraine.

Watching the news on Ukraine lately, I can't help but think about how deeply people are being affected. I see children, mothers and sisters fleeing a war-torn area looking for safety. I see fathers and brothers staying to fight.

My mind wonders about the sick and infirmed, those unable to travel. A quick Google search lands on an article about children in Ukraine who are fighting cancer. My heart breaks.

A quote from the article stays with me. "We will calculate how many people or soldiers have died in attacks, but we will never calculate how many patients weren't diagnosed of a disease in time, how many patients died because they didn't receive treatment."

It feels haunting.

I think about people like me, a 15-year survivor of inflammatory breast cancer. I take medicine every day to help prevent it from attacking my body a second time. What could I do if I saw the threat of war here? Insurance prevents me from getting a lot of medicine at one time. How could I prepare? I’m not sure I could.

All cancer survivors can relate to the chaos that ensues following a diagnosis, but imagine finding out your body is being attacked and invaded at the same time your country was? I'm sure there are people who have gotten a diagnosis during the threat of war. And now they are fleeing for their lives amidst a war. I cannot stop thinking about what that would be like.

Many organizations are posting links for help from around the world. As I read them, I wonder how people will even access the listed resources with bombs falling from the sky. Hospitals meant to bring healing and hope are now targets for bombs. It feels unthinkable.

My brain can't quite grasp the speed with which things have changed for the Ukrainians. I am overwhelmed with grief for them on so many levels. Families already fighting a battle for health were displaced and separated. Cancer brings challenges that are unique and individual for everyone. Cancer during war...that feels unbearable.

My heart goes out to all the people of Ukraine, especially those who are fighting their own war with cancer. I am thankful for all the organizations and agencies that are mobilizing to help those affected by cancer. I pray that people get the help they need. I hope for peace for our fellow cancer survivors.

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