Cancer treatments can take a physical and emotional toll on people fighting for their own survival. And as the coronavirus pandemic spreads, those undergoing treatment face the added challenge of staying healthy while their immune systems are compromised.
Megan Murphy, a wife and mom of two teenage girls, lives in Round Rock, Texas, and has been undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer since last summer. She says going to treatments now feels even more stressful than before with the looming threat of the virus. COVID-19 could be lethal for someone with a suppressed immune system.
“It is quite stressful just going to cancer treatments without the virus, so having cancer treatments at the same time as the virus, and with stay-at-home orders, certainly increased the stress of going,” she says.
Chemotherapy patients already follow special self-isolation guidelines to protect them from illness while they undergo treatment. Murphy is nearing the end of her treatment, and was looking forward to resuming her normal life. But because of stay-at-home orders, her hopes for that are dashed for now.
“I was looking forward to doing those things again, and now we can’t,” she says.
But her doctors and nurses give her comfort and help her feel safe during a time of such uncertainty. They all wear extra protective equipment and take patients’ temperatures, and the staff sanitizes the treatment center. She’s grateful for their work.
“[They are] really putting their lives on the line with this virus to get us through our treatment that we really need to help save our lives,” Murphy says. “You would never know that there was a crisis when you walk in this office, which was so helpful.”
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the genders of Murphy’s children.
Written by Laura Morales.