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COVID-19 Survival Guide From the Cancer Community: We Got You

COVID-19 Survival Guide From the Cancer Community: We Got You

For the past 8 months, I’ve had to practice all the recommendations for stopping the COVID-19 virus, without the threat of a pandemic. Like so many in the breast cancer community, I have a compromised immune system. But now’s the time we can share with the rest of you how we survive social distancing!

This is a guide on how to survive, from those that have been living a life of daily social distancing, constant hand washing, and fear of getting a virus:

1. Give Grace to Yourself

My kids are 8, 5, and 2 years old and keeping them entertained all day long while being isolated is hard. We read books, we color, we go for walks (when I feel good), and we still utilize screen time. At one point when I was feeling the roughest, we were using screen time too much. I felt so guilty. Guilty my kids weren’t getting enough attention, guilty they weren’t growing their brains, and also guilty I wasn’t being more present with them.

My pediatrician reminded me that this is a unique time and that habits can be broken. She basically was letting me know that sometimes we have to do what we need to get through a tough period. With COVID-19, we’re all going through a tough period, maybe with a little too much family togetherness. As a result, if you have to feed your kids cereal for lunch, it’s OK! Or if they have more screen time than you want, it’s OK! So they aren’t getting as much stimulation as normal, that's OK. This is a short period in their life and they will be OK.

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2. Living with Fear

Fear of getting a virus is something that every cancer patient worries about. What you are feeling is normal. No one wants a virus or illness to affect them or their family. Patients with a compromised immune system live this fear daily throughout their breast cancer treatment.

For months, my family has been utilizing all the practices that the CDC is recommending. Social distancing has been used for the past 8 months for me. Yes, I miss all the fun big events, but I also know it is short-lived. My community relies greatly on our medical doctors, and now we must rely on world health leaders like the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization. We put our lives in the hands of our doctors, the experts. We now have to put our lives in the hands of the experts, the CDC.

3. Social Distancing is Key

This has been the hardest for me to live with. I am social. I live for adult conversations and outside activities. Canceling or not attending fun events hurts my heart. It really does. I know the importance of isolation. I hate it but know it’s necessary for my family. Right now, it’s necessary for society.

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Recently I did not practice social distancing. My kids developed a passion for wrestling. I so wanted them to not miss out on another event, so we went to the tournament. At the tournament, we hand sanitized every 30 minutes and after each match. Someone was coughing next to me, and I scouted down the bleacher. We hand washed before eating, stayed away from people the best we could, but we also let our guard down. All for a fun 5-hour event.

Do you know what happened? Influenza. My boys and myself got influenza. We did everything we thought was right, except for not going. Looking back, we really should have skipped the event.

What would I like you to take away? This is temporary. It stinks, but we are all doing our part to not spread COVID-19. By skipping the birthday party, trip to the playground, the playdate, you are protecting our community. The cancer community. We thank you right now!

We Got You

The cancer community has been living with social distancing. We are surviving. We are finding joy at home. If we can do this while fighting cancer, you are all able to do this while being healthy. We appreciate the efforts, we truly do. Our fear is beyond COVID-19. It is influenza, the common cold, side effects, and any real illness that can put us in the hospital. Social distancing will not only protect you, but also the most vulnerable population from COVID-19. It will also hopefully stop the spread of influenza, the common cold, the stomach flu, and all the icky illnesses that come with winter.  We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your efforts now.

Charissa BatesCharissa is a stay-at-home mama of 3 beautiful kiddos and an amazing husband! Charissa was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer in June of 2019 at the age of 33. She has been doing everything in her power to be done with the dreaded "C" word since her diagnosis. She enjoys reading, leading a small bible study group, using her Cricut, loving up on her nieces and nephews, and spending time at her family’s cabin with her family. One day she hopes to make a big impact within her community and see a cure for cancer! Connect with Charissa at