Cancer and CoronaVirus

This article is not fully about Coronavirus or COVID 19 . As with my entire blog I only talk about my experience and awareness to Lymphoma. If and I hope that if remains as an if I get COVID 19 only then will I attempt to discuss the effects.

My concern is about the way part of this is been handled. In Ireland we are on partial lockdown. 70 plus year old people must stay at home, people in none essential service must remain at home with restricted movement leaving only essential services travelling to and from work. If a person feels unwell they call their doctor and if your showing signs of COVID 19 then your isolated for 2 weeks pending test and results.

Coronavirus 4 main symptoms:

cough
fever
tiredness
difficulty breathing (severe cases)

But these can also be some of the symptoms of other medical issues. Particularly Cancer and early diagnosis picks up on some of these symptoms. Fever can be the immune system been extremely active fighting cancer cells, coughs can be seen as a number of types of cancer, tiredness most definitely is a sign of most cancers and respiratory issues can again signal lung cancers. So if your unwell and get tested and this test comes back clear then what you most likely don’t have is COVID 19. You may simply have a cold or the flu or something more serious. These still require medical attention such as steroids, antibiotics, scans, physical exams etc.

If your still feeling unwell and have been tested with negative results you need to talk to your doctor again

The Coronavirus test is “at that time” you don’t have it. This does not mean that your immune what it means you could still get it.

The danger groups and most at risk of Coronavirus are:

  • are over 60, people over 70 are particularly vulnerable and should cocoon
  • have a long-term medical condition – for example, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer, cerebrovascular disease, renal disease, liver disease or high blood pressure
  • have a weak immune system (immunosuppressed)
  • have a medical condition that can affect your breathing
  • are residents of nursing homes and other long-stay settings  
  • are in specialist disability care and are over 50 years of age or have an underlying health problem

Again some of these are also risk groups for cancer.

I checked with my oncology team a couple of weeks ago as I check off a number of these items. With my 6 year history of Lymphoma, twice diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma, three times diagnosed terminal, highly aggressive levels of chemotherapy and the Stem Cell Transplant I was tested. But I have now been waiting 10 days for results (long term cancer patients are used to waiting for results) but I’m in remission over two years which helps. My immune system is still an issue so I’m open for colds flus and virus. So our first task is to eliminate the possibility of COVID 19 and if I feel unwell then other test will be done or medication prescribed.

My role within business was relaunched in Nov 2018 following remission. I manage the Cork section of an Irish national transport & Logistics company. A large part of our business has always centred around medical & hygiene- for the past month this part of the business is substantial & more demanding. We are classed as essential services and my medical team know how important it is to keep me actively involved in distribution . If I show any more signs of the virus I’ll be quarantined not isolated. The Stage 4 part of my original diagnosis included liver & right lung, during the 2014 initial chemotherapy my right lung got damaged. With a viral infection or respiratory virus this lung is vulnerable.

The advantage I have over most is actually down to the Stem Cell Transplant. From the time you commence treatment your advised to restrict movement and social interaction. Following SCT it’s even more advised for months as your immune system is ruined. Cleaning, food prep and disinfecting is a way of life for cancer victims. Once this virus started to appear we commenced re introducing greater disinfectant cleaning like we did following SCT. Social interaction is very like social distancing & social distancing with COVID 19 is vital.

But back to my main point here. If your tested for COVID 19 and your clear but still feeling unwell call your doctor or visit an accident & emergency hospital. If for any reason you have any form of cancer early diagnosis could save you. 9.6 million died of cancer in 2018, a higher number is expected for 2019 and god only knows how many more for 2020. If people “put off” going to hospitals or calling doctors now, if it’s cancer then the cancer stage can jump from Stage 1 to Stage 4 fast.

So everyone stay safe and follow Samuel L Jackson’s instructions

Just a quick note. The Irish government have placed all residents in the Irish Republic over the age of 70 or with serious underlying medical issues to Cocoon and NOT to leave their home. Medical and food must be delivered to these people. This means that as and from midnight 27th March these people are NOT insured to drive a motor vehicle. It’s not an if or but – People in this group have a legal obligation to comply that is why emergency legislation is in place.

Cocoon means staying at home and not leaving. If you need food get it delivered, delivery drivers or family can’t enter the house, they will or should leave the items at your door, knock and stand back more than 2m (6ft) – if the person doesn’t answer the door or phone then the person delivering should call emergency service but not enter the dwelling. Medication should be delivered like this. If the person in cocoon feels unwell they need to call emergency services.

You can’t visit anyone over 70 or cocooned under any conditions.

“Go mbeannaí Dia sibh”

Ian Doherty

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