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BridgetO

Coronavirus risk

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Hi everybody, 

I'm sure many of us have been concerned about the risk of coronavirus. I am worriedand I'm feeling like a whiner, because I know a lot of you have risk factors greater than mine.  I'm retired from full time work. At the present, I'm working on-call at a shelter for homeless families. I'm "on the floor", meaning I'm directly involved with residents, including little kids and we all know how germy they are. I try to maintain distance, but am not always successful.  We try to keep the place sanitized, but anything is only sanitary until the next person touches it.

.Lately I've been working one or two shifts a week.  All staff have now been told to stay home if they have any respiratory symptoms at all, so I know I'm going to be asked to do more shifts. I'm feeling perfectly well, but  I'm getting increasingly nervous about my coronavirus risk. I'm 74 and I've had 3 primary cancers, NED on all 3. No other major heath issues.   I know my age is a risk factor but I haven't heard anything  about whether past cancers or cancer treatment increases risk. Anybody know?  I'm considering declining to take any more shifts or even declining to do the ones I'm already signed up for.  I always put myself out there as a tough old bird. But now I feel like a wuss and also like I''d be letting my coworkers down, since I know there will be staff shortages. 

So that's my whining. Thanks for reading.  I've e-mailed my pulmonologist for advice.   Any other thoughts or suggestions?

 Bridget O

 

 

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Bridget

My two cents....I wouldn't risk it if it were me. You have survived so much, why expose yourself to more pain and suffering.  Let the younger generation step up for this battle.

Peace

Tom

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I second what Tom said!

The coronavirus finally got to my county on yesterday as I was waiting on my wife to finish radiation. I had just checked my phone and it showed "8 minutes ago" virus in Jefferson County TN. I went to tell the desk nurse and 2 more nurses came out to tell the desk nurse when I did. My wife will now wear a mask and gloves to all further chemo and radiation. We already required anyone entering our house to put on a mask. We have now told everyone to stay away. We really are hermits now.

Steve

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Hey Bridget,

The CDC guidelines, very quietly issued last Friday is pretty clear.  If you’re over 60, stay home.  
 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html

Even with a history of lung cancer, that is lung disease. 

I started a self isolation plan last week, now there are rapid cancelations rolling in so I no longer feel like I’m missing out on anything.  
 

No tough old birding this one out!!! What does your wife think?  Is she taking care of herself too?

Hang in there.  We need you here!  
Michelle
 

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Hi Friends,

I have a suspected second metastisis which is 8mm.  It's been slow growing.  Oncologist says we can do a "wait and see" for the next three months, or biopsy it.  Initially, I was going to go for the biopsy because my anxiety is all over the place.  But in this season of Covid, I don't want to go to hospitals or doc offices.  Doc says I will be doing another round of chemo.  I'm like, why do this now?  Thoughts? 

 

Thanks.

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Hi Danioh,  If your doctor says a 3 months wait and see is a reasonable option, and if you think the risk of Covid 19 outweighs any possible risk in waiting, waiting seems to me to br a reasonable course of action. If the Covid 19 epidemic settles down in less than 3 months, you could go in for a biopsy then.

Michelle and TJM,. my oncologist recommended that I not work at my present job right now. She didn't think my lung history (Lobectomy for Adenocarcinoma) was a big issue, since my remaining lung capacity is adequate. . She DID think my age was a big risk factor and that was the reason for her recommendation.  So today was my last day at work until the epidemic situation looks better. 

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@ Bridget - I commend you for your volunteering (but that is "so" you, isn't it?! You have such a big heart!) but I am glad you are heeding your oncologist's recommendation. It IS a struggle, wanting to help others right now that we know need help, but it's just not worth the risk to you life at present.  Michelle was right - we need you here!

 

@ Danioh - I am likely in the same boat as you with the same questions, fears - and wanting to know what others think. 

I had a lobectomy in Oct 2018. My first 2 post-op scans show a small nodule in the upper left lobe now. Radiologist believes the nodule is concerning; another slow growing adenocarcinoma. My surgeon/oncologist did not agree after reviewing my first scan. The second scan (last August) he said "maybe" but that the nodule was too small to biopsy or even find. He asked me to "trust" him and wait 8 months for my next scan.That would have been this coming April. I live about 2 hours north of Seattle, where my surgeon is. With COVID-19 life has definitely changed. I decided I didn't want to take the risk of driving down to Seattle next month, to a crowded medical setting and risking exposure to the virus. I called my Dr.'s office to let them know; I have not heard back from them. I'm hoping my surgeon will be able to discuss the results of the scan with me by phone - if he's not too busy caring for those sick with this virus. I have scheduled an appt with a pulmonologist as well - in case the surgeon can't discuss this with me by phone  - but that appt. is not until the end of April (and it's not with my regular pulmonologist - he was booked until June!)

I know the virus is spreading in my own city now as well, but I decided to go ahead and get my scan done asap vs waiting longer. I was concerned I might not even be able to get a scan if things get really crazy here. I don't want to get coronavirus, but I also don't want to risk waiting too long before checking on this suspicious tumor either.

So, I had my scan done 2 days ago on Friday, 3/13.  I have to admit - I was extremely nervous about even leaving the house. My anxiety was so high - I even surprised myself at how nervous I was, and I know I tend to be a worrier. This time, I was actually feeling physically sick with worry. I have basically self-isolated for the past 2 weeks per the CDC's advice. I am 61 and have mild/moderate emphysema with shortness of breath now since my lobectomy, so I know that only increases my risk of getting really sick or dying from COVID-19... so I get what you're feeling.  I checked in when I arrived and asked if I could wait outside. They were fine with that request. I was called in quickly and the scan was over in just a few minutes, and I was heading home. I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders on the drive home. I convinced myself that my risk of exposure to COVID-19 was likely very minimal at the imaging clinic. I told myself I did the right thing in following-up on this tumor, too. I am concerned, however, that if the tumor has grown or become solid that I will be advised to take further action... which I'm not sure how I will handle given the current situation. I do not want to be scheduling another surgical procedure in Seattle at this time. I don't want to be going for radiation either if that is suggested, or chemo.  My son and I were interviewed by a Seattle paper last week to discuss how the coronavirus has affected our lives... I said I wasn't sure what I was more afraid of - cancer or coronavirus.  I thought I was more afraid of cancer; now I'm not so sure.

I honestly do think you would probably be at a minimal risk of exposure if you go for a biopsy... Especially with the stringent disinfecting that is taking place everywhere. As long as you aren't kept in a crowded waiting room with a lot of other people. I think the anxiety of not knowing what is going on will not make your anxiety over COVID-19 any easier. At least you would know what you might need to deal with in the future - and how you can make that work in the safest possible manner in the midst of this pandemic. That is why I went ahead with my scan... so I can know what I am facing. If they still suspect it is another cancer, I will ask if they feel I can wait this out, if it is slow growing. The problem is, it sounds like this virus is going to be a great risk for many of us for a long time until a vaccine or treatments are found and available.

I know waiting is a risk, but like you, I don't want to be going in and out of doctor's clinics and upping my risk of exposure. If I am advised that I need to do something soon, I honestly don't know what decision I will make.  The other thing I need to consider is that I might want to have a procedure done but won't be able to if our medical facilities are over capacity. That scares me a great deal as well.

Let us know what you end up deciding... I may need to look to your example!

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On 3/14/2020 at 3:28 PM, BridgetO said:

Hi everybody, 

I'm sure many of us have been concerned about the risk of coronavirus. I am worriedand I'm feeling like a whiner, because I know a lot of you have risk factors greater than mine.  I'm retired from full time work. At the present, I'm working on-call at a shelter for homeless families. I'm "on the floor", meaning I'm directly involved with residents, including little kids and we all know how germy they are. I try to maintain distance, but am not always successful.  We try to keep the place sanitized, but anything is only sanitary until the next person touches it.

.Lately I've been working one or two shifts a week.  All staff have now been told to stay home if they have any respiratory symptoms at all, so I know I'm going to be asked to do more shifts. I'm feeling perfectly well, but  I'm getting increasingly nervous about my coronavirus risk. I'm 74 and I've had 3 primary cancers, NED on all 3. No other major heath issues.   I know my age is a risk factor but I haven't heard anything  about whether past cancers or cancer treatment increases risk. Anybody know?  I'm considering declining to take any more shifts or even declining to do the ones I'm already signed up for.  I always put myself out there as a tough old bird. But now I feel like a wuss and also like I''d be letting my coworkers down, since I know there will be staff shortages. 

So that's my whining. Thanks for reading.  I've e-mailed my pulmonologist for advice.   Any other thoughts or suggestions?

 Bridget O

 

 

Bridget O, please stay home.  I love that you are wanting to help and work additional shifts but we need you well for the long term.  It seems like age - without any other conditions - is a big risk factor.  Stay home for a few weeks and then you will be back to help.

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Bridget- Glad to hear you will be taking a break from the shelter! My current big concern is my manager for our homeless transitional housing project...she has advanced COPD and is not in good health.  She manages 11 units, some with young kids, the others with adult "kids". She also is stubborn and rarely listens to reason! lol  I am really struggling with finding a happy medium of keeping our homeless programs operational, but protecting my 5 staff.  Luckily they all are still willing to lace up their boots and go into battle despite the new worry of the virus.

Maybe with your new found free time, you can do some crafting 😃  

 

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Bridget,

Like others, I'm home bound. My last trip out of the house was on March 3rd.  My GP sent me an email advising I quarantine at home and ironically, my oncologist had to cancel my visit today because he is quarantined having just returned from an overseas trip.

I have about 30% lung capacity and my real threat is pneumonia. Pneumonia can result from the common cold, but my reading suggests Covid 19 is really hard on the lungs. So I'll wait this one out and catch up on my reading.

Stay the course.

Tom 

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FWIW I have decided to continue Chemo. In my mind never really questioned it. I will take precautions on Chemo day as well as when I am near nadar (starting tomorrow). I am "quarantined" the rest of the time in my 1000 ft2 "mancave". I shouldn't brag...but it's one hell of a man cave. If only there was some sports to watch.. 

Bottom line...the cancer concerns me more that the virus. And I live in west Washington state. Hope that's the right call.

Peace

Tom

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I think I would have made the same decision, Tom.  I believe you are making the right decision and taking the right precautions. Keep up the great attitude! Enjoy that man cave... so jealous... I could really use a she-shed! :-)

I spoke with my pulmonologist's office yesterday - they rec'd the results from my CT last Friday.  I didn't get a lot of details - a nurse called and said my Dr. will contact me later - but the bottom line is the nodule in the upper left lobe remains small - too small to do anything with right now - and they're advising wait another 6 months to see what next scan shows. I will see if my oncologist is in agreement. I was actually happy with this news. Who would have thought I'd be happy knowing there is a small nodule or with a "wait 'n see"?! 

In any case, I'm sharing this as I am glad I went ahead and got the CT, despite my anxiety over coronavirus. I am much more relieved knowing what my new, currently suspicious tumor is up to. It's reduced my anxiety for the time being. Concern over both cancer and COVID-19 can be overwhelming. The nurse I spoke with advised they are not scheduling pulmonary function tests / PFT's at their clinic for the time being so they can have availablity for COVID-19 patients. She said I was fortunate I got the CT last week as they are now restricting CT scans to those most in need... so things must be ramping up here in Whatcom County. I also learned from my oncologist's office in Seattle that in an effort to protect their patients (and keep up with the surge in virus cases) they are not scheduling patients for the next 8 weeks... So it's a good thing I decided not to keep my April appt. in Seattle and got my scan locally, otherwise I might be sitting here at home not knowing what cancer was up to.

Good luck with your treatments Tom.

 

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Glad to hear the good news Colleen.

I am working remotely until God knows when.  Hubs is doing OK.  We have a Dr. appt. on Thursday and as far as we know his next chemo is set up for next week.  He has been out but not around too many people.  Our county has 6 confirmed cases at the moment.  I do hope the social distancing helps, although I don't think we will know for certain for a while.  Very troubling to me that all you do is fight cancer just for a virus to come along to give you an added threat.  Anger is an understatement.  I am doing my best to remain positive and take care of my husband.

Hope everyone here can stay well.  What a mess!

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Thank you, Diane. 

I am sure many of us share your feelings... Anger, confusion, disbelief in many ways.  The isolation is going to be a challenge for both the well and those with health challenges. And age. I am 61 and was really trying to avoid feeling "elderly"... I only liked admitting I was a senior when I could get a discount! :-)  Now I really have to acknowledge the reality of what we are facing.

Your husband is fortunate that he has you to take care of him. I think it's fortunate you are able to work remotely as well - to remain employed (so many people here in WA state are in the service industry; god knows how they are going to get by) and maybe the work will help you to still feel connected to the outside world with this isolation. 

If you need help in remaining positive, keep coming to this site... I believe we are all in this together and here to support one another. I am thankful for the Internet and this site during a time like this. Hang in there! Hope your husband's appt goes well on Thursday and that chemo schedule won't be disrupted.

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Just wanted to share a little reminder, if your in person support group has had to cancel or you just need extra support right now, we are here for you. The LifeLife program can give one on one support and the HELPLine can find you resources in your area.  Information about all of these free programs can be found here: https://lungevity.org/for-patients-caregivers/support-services

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