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By Christine Healy
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

When the pandemic began in February, many cancer patients echoed the thought, “Now, others finally understand what it is like to be fearful of germs, practice social distancing, and to worry about being immunocompromised.”

Our patients have had these worries since their cancer diagnoses and have often struggled with the social isolation that followed. COVID-19 has intensified these feelings to the extent that many of the things that used to bring them joy are now off-limits, like visiting loved ones and friends. Their worlds have become even smaller and things that were helpful distractions have been minimized or completely taken away.

At a time when connecting with others seems even more important, it can be dangerous and possibly life-threatening for some. We are being asked to come up with creative ways to connect.

Zoom, Facetime and Skype are just some of the platforms offering opportunities for emotional support, family connections and even Bingo. This has been wonderful for patients and family members who live far away. For others who are not comfortable in the technology world, it can be more stressful.

The challenge seems to be finding meaning and purpose daily, and being open to change or trying something new.

Suddenly, cleaning out a closet or trying new recipes in the kitchen seems attractive. Connecting with nature or going for a walk before the temperature hits 85 degrees has been helpful for many.

In the end, we have learned that we are all truly resilient, it takes flexibility, some creativity and a bit of humor to get there.

Content for this story is from PARTNERS winter 2020; a newsletter of the Patient and Family Advisory Program.