Cancer Patients – How to cope with COVID times?

We are in an unprecedented time-zone of our lifetime. COVID-19 has taken us by surprise and caused widespread panic. Patients recently diagnosed with cancer as well as those on treatment feel themselves to be caught between the devil and the deep sea. Even those who were treated in the past and are currently free of disease are worried. There are many questions that keep bothering patients regarding continuity of cancer cancer and COVID-19 infection. That the social media is full of misinformation only adds to their confusion and panic.

Here are a few facts and measures that can be taken to minimize the risk of and due to COVID-19. Cancer patients, especially those on treatment, are a little more susceptible to get COVID-19 infection which may cause more serious illness and with worse outcomes as compared to their healthy counterparts. However, it is noteworthy that, those without cancer but with cardiac problems, diabetes or high blood pressure have even worse outcome if infected by COVID-19 as compared to cancer patients.

General Preventive Measures

  • Maintain good personal hygiene; avoid cough and sneeze of others
  • Maintain social distance
  • Clean & Sanitize home / work-place regularly
  • Use masks all the time – home and outside
  • Self isolation if required
  • Monitor for symptoms

Physical & Mental Well-being

  • Start your day with meditation
  • Regular physical exercise according to your capacity including yoga and pranayama
  • Ensure adequate sleep
  • Keep yourself well hydrated
  • Good nutrition with a balanced diet – include plenty of vegetables & fruits in diet
  • Drink warm fluids and include turmeric, ginger, tulsi in your routine diet.

In case of any abnormal symptoms keep in touch with your family physician and oncologist

Managing Cancer in COVID times

  1. Patients who are treated and are free of disease
    • Are not at increased risk of COVID-19 infection
    • Advised to minimize travel
    • Delay tests / follow up if not absolutely necessary. Instead opt for online / video consultations
    • Continue your regular medicines
    • Take precautions to avoid COVID-19 (see General Precautions)
  2. Patient who are undergoing treatment
    • Continue with your treatment as far as possible
    • Discuss with your oncologist if any changes are needed
    • Minimize travel and Choose nearest hospital with adequate facilites
    • Self-isolation if necessary
    • Take precautions to avoid COVID-19 (see General Precautions)
  3. Patient who are having suspicious symptoms / recently diagnosed
    • DO NOT STRESS / PANIC !!
    • Complete the investigations advised by your oncologist – try to do in minimum possible visits to hospital
    • Discuss about the stage of cancer, treatment options, intention of treatment (curative vs palliative), possible complications, consequences of delaying treatment with your oncologist.
    • Take Second opinion if still not comfortable
    • Discuss with family and decide a course of action. 
    • Work out the logistics – distance, cost, care-givers, anticipate and plan for problem
    • Some cancers are slow growing and you can safely wait for a few weeksfor treatment to begin

IMPORTANT MESSAGES

Corona is here to stay – DO NOT Panic; we need to live with it.

Maintain healthy lifestyle

Take adequate precautions even after lockdown is over and continue with your life 

Cancer treatment is safe with adequate precautions and modifications so DO NOT IGNORE cancer

Prefer tele-consults over hospital visits wherever feasible

DON’T PANIC or BECOME PARANOID!!