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 Debbie Shore’s story of how COVID-19 has made her daughter Nicole’s breast cancer treatment more stressful for their whole family.
On October 19, my 42-year-old daughter Nicole was diagnosed with stage one, level three breast cancer.
She found a tiny lump in April, unfortunately ignored it, then by October we knew it was bad.
She had a lumpectomy after the first round of chemotherapy. She’shearing impaired and after the first round of chemotherapy, she went deaf. The doctors said it was a one in a million case and they’ve never seen it happen before.
After her first dose of chemotherapy she collapsed at home and we had to get the ambulance. She had to choose between losing her hearing and saving her life. She volunteers for Riding For the Disabled Association, and without her hearing she wouldn’t be able to continue. She wanted to keep doing what she loved.
The oncologist met her halfway and suggested they lower the dose.
She didn’t get the full dose of the chemotherapy because of her hearing issues, which is why I’m so frightened that the cancer will come back.
She only got to round six of the chemotherapy, and she had side effects with her hands, she had some numbness, so they stopped.
She’s receiving radiation now and physically she’s feeling a lot better now, although she tires very easily.
Isolation during cancer treatment
It’s terrible that I can’t be there with her at the treatment centre. I promised that I’d be there for her and now I feel like I can’t be.
She’s got five more rounds of radiation to go. I’m petrified for her.
Emotionally, she’sterrified – it’s not good. Other than necessities she stays home. It’s totally changed our lives.
Her brother, who is also deaf, cooked and froze about 40 meals for her, so that she’d be able to stay home as much as possible. Without him the household wouldn’t have ran.
It’s been really tough on Nicole’s son, Dillon,who has autism. That makes it so much harder –he shuts down and he doesn’t want to talk about it.
We decided it was still important to celebrate Nicole’s forty-second birthday, so she came and had dinner at my place. There was no way I was going to let her sit there and be there by herself on her birthday.
I want to tell people wash your handsand stay at home! People just don’t get it.
One lady at the shops pushed her trolleyinto Nicole and told her to hurry up.
We’re looking forward to being able to get on with life and have a normal life after this is over. There’s nothing normal about having cancer.
Help at hand
When she was very sick during her first round of chemotherapy, Nicole’s nieces Ellora 10, and Piper 7, and their very close friends Hudson and Lawson, raised $500 through Facebook to support Nicole.
It meant everything to Nicole – she was battling and $500 meant a lot, it got her to the specialists she needed to see and purchased the scarves she needed after her hair started falling out.
We don’t know where we would be without Cancer Council –when Nicole was diagnosed, we had no information and nowhere to go, and Cancer Council’s information services were so helpful.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Debbie.
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.