Managing cancer is a big deal. More so, during covid times. Getting tests done, visiting the doctor, getting the required treatment be it radiation or chemotherapy, everything involves going to the hospital.
The Covid pandemic has brought life to a standstill. One day, everyone was busily heading off to the office, meeting friends, attending events and then, suddenly everything just stopped. Our lives depended on us not stepping out.
Covid-19 causes damage to the respiratory system. More importantly, it spreads very quickly from one person to another and can be life-threatening for people with low immunity. Usually, the treatment procedure for cancer lowers the immunity of a person. So, exposure to coronavirus is definitely riskier for patients with cancer.
Tips to cope with Cancer
In this situation, what should one choose? Going to the hospital to get the treatment done or stay home and be safe. Well, this is a unique situation to be in. So, you will need to try and find unique solutions to the problem. Here are some tips that can help you answer this million-dollar question.
1. Covid vaccination
You can choose to get yourself vaccinated against the coronavirus. Though there is limited research on how the vaccine effects cancer patients, the danger of contacting the virus is far higher. It is seen that covid affects cancer patients more severely. So, speak to your doctor about taking the vaccination and if you are a good candidate to take the vaccination, please go ahead and take it at the earliest.
2. Doctor Visits
Having cancer involves frequent doctor visits. The doctor will want to see you assess your condition and suggest tests or analyze your test results and suggest the future course of action.
During the pandemic, however, it is best for you to stay away from hospitals as much as you can.
All most all doctors are now available online. You can share your test reports through email or other social media channels to avoid meeting in person. Once your doctor checks the reports, you can meet him/her on a video call or a telephonic call to understand what is to be done next.
3. Diagnostic tests and Imaging
This is an important part of treating cancer. If you are just starting out your treatment or you are already taking a course to tackle cancer, undergoing tests is important. Doctors suggest treatment options based on the tests. Tests also show how your body is reacting to the suggested treatment.
If the doctor has prescribed tests like blood work or urine tests etc, these can be done at your home. Book an appointment with a phlebotomist and he/she will visit your home to collect your sample. This is a far safer way to get your tests done as you will not be exposed to too many people.
If the doctor has prescribed imaging tests that need you to go to a clinic or a hospital, you should try to book the first slot in the day. This means, no one else has used the equipment before you. Also, it is likely that if you are early, there are far lesser people in the hospital/clinic compared to rush hours which usually start from 10 AM.
4. Treatment options
Cancer involves different types of treatments based on the patient’s age, the kind of cancer and the stage it is in. If the cancer is still in the very early stages and treatment can be kept on hold for some time you can opt for this route.
Sometimes, the treatment involves taking chemotherapy, which is mostly done by injecting the drug through your veins. In this case, you can ask your doctor if you can temporarily switch to oral medication.
In cases where the drugs need to be given intravenously, you can check if you can have a nurse at home who can administer the drugs.
Minimum exposure to people is what you should aim for.
So, discuss frankly with your doctor as to how you can minimize going to the hospital during these trying times.
Even after taking all of these precautions, it is possible that you get exposed to the virus. In such cases, it is best to keep cancer treatment on hold or postpone it. The reason for this is that, in most cases, cancer treatment involves taking immunosuppressants. Suppressing the immunity system while the body is fighting the virus can turn out to be extremely dangerous.
All in all, you just need to remember two things:
- Stay away from crowds and stay at home as much a possible.
- Discuss how your treatment can be made remote so that you avoid contact with people
In these unusual times,Ayu Health has supported patients through and through to get them the best that healthcare can offer. From vaccinations to online consultations with well-experienced doctors to maintaining the highest levels of sanitization, everything is being done.
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About the Author
Dr. Shivakumar Uppala
Dr. Shivakumar Uppala is renowned as one of the best Cancer Specialist Doctors in the country, has performed more than 500 surgeries till now, and is an experienced surgical oncologist as well as a consultant. He is practicing at Ayu Health, Bangalore. He is a specialist in Surgical Oncology and MS - General Surgery Laparoscopic Surgeon.