The coronavirus pandemic is affecting everyone, but in different ways. Among those most at risk for a serious, life-threatening infection are cancer patients. This outbreak impacts sensitive patients, like those with mesothelioma, and also their loved ones and caregivers. Know the facts about this illness, how it may put you at risk if you have mesothelioma, and what you need to do about it.
Why Cancer Patients Are in an At-Risk Group
Most people who develop COVID-19 will have mild symptoms and recover quickly. Certain groups, however, are at-risk for developing the illness more easily and having more severe, possibly life-threatening symptoms.
One group at-risk is cancer patients. COVID-19 has the potential to cause shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and pneumonia. Anyone with a lung condition or lung damage is at risk of having more serious respiratory symptoms. If you have pleural mesothelioma, you already struggle with breathing and the coronavirus can make it worse.
If you have been treated for mesothelioma, you may also have a compromised immune system. Certain treatments, including chemotherapy, weaken the immune system and make you more vulnerable to getting infected.
Protective Steps for Mesothelioma Patients
Because the risks are so serious, it is important for mesothelioma and other cancer patients to take extra care to avoid getting infected with coronavirus. Here are some steps you and your caregivers and family members should be taking:
- Stay home unless it is absolutely necessary. All residents living with you should stay home as much as possible also.
- If anyone needs to leave the home, for groceries for instance, stay at least six feet from other people. Wash your hands and disinfect anything you bring back into the home upon returning.
- Wash your hands often throughout the day, even if staying at home. Use soap and wash for a full 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your face, even with good hand washing.
- Disinfect surfaces in the home you touch often, like door handles.
- If you need to talk to your doctor, call or use a telehealth service first. Only go into your doctor’s office or a hospital if recommended or if it is an emergency.
- If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your doctor right away to find out what to do next. The symptoms, including coughing and shortness of breath, are similar to the symptoms of mesothelioma.
If You Are Due for Cancer Treatment
Another issue for cancer patients during the pandemic is that there may be barriers to getting scheduled treatments and other care. The healthcare system is being stressed by the outbreak, and many appointments and procedures considered non-essential are being postponed. If you are scheduled for chemotherapy or another treatment, call your doctor to discuss your options.
Coping with Social Distancing
During this time of required social distancing, it is easy to become isolated and lonely. Keep in touch with friends and family in safe ways, such as through video conferencing and phone calls to avoid loneliness and depression. Any kind of human contact is beneficial now.
If you have a loved one with mesothelioma stuck in a treatment facility, assisted living, or a nursing home, you may find you cannot visit them. This can be difficult, but again, any way you can stay in touch will help. Write letters, text and call, and even wave and smile through a window if it’s possible.
The coronavirus pandemic will pass, but not before negatively affecting so many people. If you or someone you care about is living with mesothelioma, take extra precautions and talk to your doctor about treatments.
- American Cancer Society. (2020, March 25). Common Questions About the New Coronavirus Outbreak.
Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/common-questions-about-the-new-coronavirus-outbreak.html
- Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Specific Questions and Answers About COVID-19 for Cancer Patients.
Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/patient-visitor-guide/covid-19-faqs/cancer