We are living in one of the most unusual times the world has ever seen—a pandemic that has lasted 19 months and will continue into the next 2 years, maybe even longer.
Just when we were getting excited about coming out of our homes and socializing again, we learn that the delta variant is as contagious as chicken pox, and millions of people remain unvaccinated. We must next prepare for what will likely be a new variant of COVID-19 that will be worse than the delta variant.
Feeling hopeful, and then finding that hope is temporary, makes it much harder to cope as we continue to move backwards. Our patients will be feeling extra stress because they were planning on more physical contact with their family support system, more smiling faces in the chemo infusion center, and a look at your face without the mask. It is anticipated that visitor restrictions at hospitals and cancer centers will once again be enforced.
When patients with cancer are already stressed over their diagnosis and treatment, they can become depressed and anxious. The addition of the backward movement of our failure to overcome the pandemic as hoped can make it worse.
Consider having a candid discussion with your patients about how they are occupying themselves while at home. See if they are able to work virtually from their house and ask what enjoyable activities they are engaging in that are hopefully safe.
If they are sitting like couch potatoes and watching TV all day, they need to find healthier activities. If they are constantly watching the news, make sure they are relying on credible information from reliable sources. Media likes to sensationalize the news because drama makes money, no matter what channel you tune into. Think about the winter months when there is just a threat of snow, before the weatherman even finishes reporting, people have raced to the store to get toilet paper, bread, and milk. Our patients need the facts, but don’t need extra drama.
Stay on top of daily updates from your place of employment and how they are responding to the current COVID-19 threats. You can use this information to educate your patients as we don’t want them to be too scared to come onsite for their treatment. We need to practice safety measures to keep them safe and explain to them what precautions we are taking.
There is no way to know when this pandemic will really be over. Until then, consider doing what I do every morning—reading the Serenity Prayer.