With The Novel Coronavirus, Cancer Sort Of Slipped My Mind


The novel coronavirus that led to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a constant fixture, not dissimilar to how cancer hangs over our lives as well.

This pandemic thing can throw a guy off his game and you can forget the really important things.

Like cancer.

I was diagnosed with stage 3 prostate cancer in 2014 and suffered a recurrence the following year. Radiation and hormone therapy intervened and staved off my cancer, ushering in a very welcome remission.

I thought cancer would be the major challenge of my life, but little did I know that something called the novel coronavirus would change that forever. So, when I went into lockdown in March 2020, my whole life seemed to revolve around fending off the deadly virus.

Some of the COVID-19 questions that I have wrestled with are:

  • How can I manage to achieve a germ-free environment without wearing a hazmat suit?
  • Am I isolating enough or should I give a quick hug to my family members, come what may?
  • Should I put off in-person Thanksgiving plans and do a socially distant drive-by with loved ones instead?
  • Have I cleaned my curbside groceries enough, or should I give them a twice-over treatment?
  • Is it safe to go to the movies even if every row has plexiglass all the way to the ceiling?

In a ‘remission bubble’

With no easy answers, I nearly forgot that cancer cells are still rummaging around inside me. Almost forgot that stage 3 can morph into stage 4 in a heartbeat. Almost forgot that cancer kills more than 600,000 Americans just in the last year.

I practically forgot about cancer, even though I’m part of a support group at Gilda’s Club. Twice a month, we hold a Zoom session where we talk about how we are coping with the coronavirus. Cancer is a distant second in topics during our confabs. Did I mention that we’re all, thankfully, in remission?

I was nudged back to reality when I learned that countless cancer survivors are postponing their treatments due to the pandemic. That people who may need to have cancer screenings are putting them off. And that we all need to look out after one another— especially during a health crisis.

I became painfully aware that not everyone in the cancer community is in the remission bubble. That many of our brothers and sisters in active treatment are taking one worrisome step at a time. And that they’re consumed with appointments, tests and anxiety.

Solemn pledges

But now that I’m back down to earth about cancer, I want to make some solemn pledges:

  1. To spread the word on the importance of cancer health screenings.
  2. To hold the hand of my fellow survivor awaiting scan or blood tests results.
  3. To reach out by phone and email to other survivors who remain shut-ins to reduce their chances of contracting COVID-19.
  4. To give financial support to Gilda’s Club and the American Cancer Society to further their important work.

And I pledge never to forget that I’m part of a close community of survivors, comrades in arms in our fight against cancer and the coronavirus.

We’ll get through this together!

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