The exponential growth of COVID-19 pandemic poses severe challenges for oncology patients. The fear and dilemmas among cancer patients during this time is soaring high with each passing day and they as doubtful as how to proceed with the current treatment plan, how to be safe visiting the hospital, and how to continue with the regular follow up care. Though the waves of fear might revolve around you, a pragmatic action needs to be taken to ensure safety protocols in place that keeps you safe from strikingly infectious COVID-19. This is because cancer patients who are newly diagnosed or undergoing treatment such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy have weakened immune system making them vulnerable to the disease.
Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has significantly brought a bigger impact on health, but the severity can be minimized by taking considerable proactive precautions and measures to lower the risk. Well! Staying positive and focussed can make you heal and feel better during the cancer-battling stage. Don’t let yourself bombarded with the negative thoughts that pull you down. It can only bring bad influence on your everyday life and mental health. Whatsoever the health condition you are going through, don’t magnify your problems, instead boot your mind and body in a calm way. To help you out during the pandemic times, here are a few tips which can help you mitigate the harmful effects of COVID-19.
Why cancer patients are at risk?
Data till now indicate that older individuals and others with underlying chronic medical conditions like diabetes, cancer, and kidney disease are at a higher risk of contracting the infection owing to the compromised immune system.
Since cancer patients have low levels of white blood cells or unfunctional WBCs, the body loses its ability to fight infections. This is also due to the damage caused by the intake of chemotherapy treatment and anticancer drugs. Hence, cancer patients are at a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. Also, a few types of cancer like lung cancer and blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia, multiple myeloma, and lymphomas, disrupt immune cell production and hence the probability of getting infected to COVID-19 increases manifolds.
Overcome your dilemmas now!
Cancer patients often fight with the dilemmas on the treatment plan, cancer care, surgeries, consultations, visits, and diagnosis. Yes! During this contagious environment, it is obvious. Eliminate the blanket rule and speak to your treating doctor as the treatments should be continued to avoid tumour progression. Therefore, withholding any line of cancer treatment such as radiotherapy or cancer therapy should be considered only if you develop COVID-19 symptoms.
Tips for cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Cancer patients have suppressed immune system and the repeated attack on the immune cells also targets healthy cells and tissues. Hence, to reduce worst COVID-19 outcomes and to keep your immune system smoothly running, you need to take extra precautions to protect yourselves during the pandemic. Here, we have listed out a few tips for cancer patients on how to take care of yourself and others to avoid getting exposed or infected to COVID-19:
- Strictly adhere and follow respiratory and hand hygiene
- Avoid crowded places, group meetings, and public gatherings
- Wear PPE while heading to hospitals for visits and treatments
- Practice social distancing
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently when you head out
- Avoid social contacts with friends or relatives who are confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19 symptoms.
- Don’t take any medication on your own without consulting your treating doctors as it may interfere with your cancer medications.
- Maintain your scheduled appointments or reschedule your appointments promptly to reduce treatment delays such as screening, surgeries, and therapies.
- Be vigilant! In case of cancer survivors experiencing new symptoms like cough, cold, sore throat, fever, tiredness, muscle pain, anosmia, dysgeusia and shortness of breath, consult your treating doctor or contact the nearest doctor online immediately.
- Never miss your daily physical activity as it helps to release endorphins, which uplift the mood and improve mental health. So, ensure to stay physically fit throughout the challenging times.
- Stockpile cancer medications, OTC medicines, and other essentials like tissues, hand sanitizer, groceries, and household items.
- Get your routine health check-up done as suggested through tele-consultation
- Get plenty of sleep, drink the right amount of water, and consume a well-balanced diet, by supplementing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, nuts, and seeds to maintain a good immune system. Yes! Right foods are required to boost immunity thereby prevents the susceptibility to infections and diseases.
The poor immune defence mechanism in cancer patients makes the body more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. A good preventive measure in place and adherence to government and healthcare authorities’ guidelines may avert worse outcomes due to COVID-19 infection. In a nutshell, following the doctor’s guidance along with the tips listed above can help you to confront the novel coronavirus in the best way.
Let’s stand together and stay stronger during the pandemic!