COVID-19: What Does Normal Look Like Now?

This article was written on March 22, 2020. Further developments in what we know about the coronavirus are continuously emerging.

The coronavirus scare engulfing our nation has definitely put a lot of nervousness into the world of individuals with underlying health conditions. With my diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer with extensive bone metastasis stage IV, dia. 2, I have what the professionals call a “compromised immune system”. I keep hearing on the television that this virus mostly harms the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

However, they forget to mention cancer and the treatment of cancer as an underlying health condition. I hate to burst their collective bubble but I don't think they realize that most cancer patients have a compromised immune system.

Our "new normal" after COVID-19

My wife, Cristy and I have hunkered down here on the family farm in the head of the hollow. We have reduced many trips out into the world as much as humanly possible. We bought a two week supply of food and water as instructed by the president. We also purchased plenty of bathroom paper, tissues, and all the necessary medications.

We all know there's a shortage of masks. Luckily, I have two boxes of masks from an earlier time when I was enduring chemo infusions. Cristy sews clothing for her American Girl Doll collection. She posted on Facebook that she was willing to sew face masks for anyone who needed them. Immediately her post was overwhelmed with people thanking her. My youngest daughter, Brittani Shantel works in healthcare and put in her order for masks.

With the shortage of masks in the US, it's our healthcare workers and high-risk folks who badly need them. I am working from home as my oncologist faxed a letter to my employer to remind them of my compromised immune system.

Feeling anxious about upcoming medical appointments

Speaking of my regular cancer health team, they have canceled my bi-monthly checkup this coming week due to the spread of the coronavirus.

However, I still have an appointment Monday to refill my pain pump. Thinking about this appointment, I am a little anxious to go to this scheduled refill. With the virus spreading, I ask myself "would it be worth it to get the refill and risk exposing myself to coronavirus?" I'm not sure what I'd rather face...intense bone pain or contracting the coronavirus.

Playing it safe for my compromised immune system

We cancer patients with extreme underlying health concerns also have concerns about attending scheduled appointments due to our cancer treatment. Without a fully functioning immune system, I am extremely concerned and considering canceling my appointment and suffering through the pain for a while. No matter what, I will play it safe for the sake of my compromised immune system and wear a face mask and use high volumes of hand sanitizer whenever I leave my home.

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