Chemo in the Time of COVID-19
We've entered a brave new world with COVID-19, but it's hard to feel brave.
I’m a pediatric resident in my final year of training, and I'm reading everything I can about it for my patients and their families. But also, unexpectedly, I’m reading for my mom.
My mom is 68 and totally fierce. She downhill skis at least once weekly throughout Minnesota’s snowy winters and fills her summer days with biking, kayaking, and late night swing dancing. She plans adventures. She’s fun. She’s silly. She plays the piano so I can belt jazz standards and she knows a million and a half songs to sing to my nieces, Amelia and Sophie.
My sister and her daughters are in town from Seattle. They came a month ago, before toilet paper started running off the shelves. They came because last month our own little nightmare started – our mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. The first week was a rush of imaging and appointments and our worst fears playing out. But now, things are worse: because of COVID-19, not only is she battling a scary diagnosis and the effects of chemotherapy, but she is cut off from her friends, her activities, her support systems – stuck inside except for a daily walk. She's immunocompromised now because of the chemo, so she is incredibly high risk – and our number one priority is keeping her safe from the virus.
My mom is a fighter, and amazingly she is still smiling. Still, she has always been such an active, social person, so my sister and I worry about the next many months with social distancing and a new shelter-in-place directive. We know it's going to be a long journey for her–5 months of chemotherapy, then surgery, then radiation. I believe that a Peloton bike would really expand her world in a beautiful way–giving her a way to exercise inside to stay as strong as she can, and with it a wonderful, supportive community to cheer her on. Because despite cancer, despite COVID-19, we will choose to be hopeful and brave. We will get through this together.