The evolving COVID-19 situation has impacted all of us. For people affected by cancer, the pandemic has been particularly challenging.
We asked our community to share how COVID-19 has impacted them.
This is Chez’s story of going through radiation treatment during COVID-19.
My life has been turned upside down by cancer. Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy and chemotherapy last year. She’s 75, and her health has been affected by the cancer and her treatment.
Then, I was also diagnosed with breast cancer in November when I had my regular mammogram. I was told I had two invasive tumours, one malignant, and needed surgery to remove them. I’d just been through Mum’s journey and never thought that I’d be next.
I was booked in for an operation on 12 December, but they refused to operate because I wasn’t well enough. I wasn’t sleeping and I went onto a CPAP machine.
I went in on the 9January, and I had a wide excision of two tumours. Unfortunately, they didn’t get everything, and one had spread to my lymph nodes, so I had another operation on 6 February, and then got the all-clear.
I then needed to have five weeks of radiation.
“Like living through absolute hell”
My first radiation treatment was on 26 March, and I was terrified because of COVID-19.
I didn’t know if anyone I would come into contact with during my treatment might have the virus.
I asked questions all the time, such ashow they weresanitising the radiation bed. I told the staff I wouldn’t be waiting in the waiting room anymore. I’ve worked as a practice manager, so I understand the need for these thingsand I was terrified. I felt like I was caught in a situation where it was cancer or COVID-19.
I heard that there were some cases of coronavirus at the hospital and in the radiation unit. I really thought I was going to get COVID-19 and die.
I was worried about using the changerooms, and how often they were disinfected. I was told that the government couldn’t afford to provide enough masks or gowns for staff.
COVID-19 was just like living through absolute hell. It was terrifying to the average individual, let alone someone going through radiation with a compromised immune system.
I was fearful of my life, not from cancer but from COVID-19. I really wanted to cancel my radiation. In the end I just prayed for the best.
I finished radiation treatment on 27 April, which was a massive relief. I have been living on adrenaline since COVID-19 started.
I had to tell my mum that I couldn’tcome near her while I was having radiation during COVID-19.
Because of COVID-19, I had no support whatsoever when I went for my radiation.
I was there to support my mum, but no one could be there with me when I when I went for my radiation, although my friends have done their best to be there for me.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Chez.
We understand those undergoing cancer treatment, cancer survivors and their families and friends may have questions in relation to COVID-19.
If you are feeling anxious, have questions or need support, Cancer Council’s information and support line is available on 13 11 20 during business hours. Our specially trained team can provide emotional support as well as practical tips for minimising the risk of infection during this time.