COVID-19 has become world-wise pandemic now. First, it happened in Wuhan (China), and then was spread to the countries around China. Following that, it was in Europe. The epidemic centre was in Italy, and later COVID-19 was spread to Spain, Germany, England and Russia, etc. Recently the coronavirus came in North and South America, namely the USA, Canada, Brazil and Australia, etc. COVID-19 has spread globally. The situations are dire.
For lung cancer patients and caregivers, COVID-19 is frightening because our lungs have already been compromised by cancer. With the coronavirus attacking the lung directly, it’s reasonable that the cancer patients become nervous. However, I feel that maybe some patients are too worried. Here is what I think of COVID-19.
Know what you are afraid.
By now, many doctors give talks, and many scientific papers have been published about COVID-19. On TV and radios, many channels and stations are about COVID-19. Especially, the coronavirus affecting lung cancer is frequently spoken in the lung cancer community. The information is everywhere. I think it’s crucial to know the facts of COVID-19 and not just follow somebody’s opinion.
I’m a Canadian, and I watch CBC and CTV Nationals every day, and each of the provinces also reports the progress of the pandemic and the numbers of infections and deaths. There is no confusion from the sources, from the Prime Minister to provincial health officials. Also, all the medical information is given by health care professionals. So the information about COVID-19 and the progress of epidemic are quite consistent.
I’m also closely watching the situation in China since China is the first country to have a pandemic. I noticed that the period from the beginning of finding the coronavirus to the days’ virus dead down in Wuhan (China) was about three months. I’ve seen from the videos and pictures; Chinese people suffered a lot, but I also noticed that they were fighting the COVID-19 for their lives. The Chinese government spent a large amount of money on medical goods and infrastructure. The total medical cost for Wuhan, just a single city, is about $196.8B in the same period of epidemic. It’s unbelievable.
Know the lung cancer patients in China?
I think it’s helpful to watch Chinese, especially Chinese lung cancer patients, to know their experience with COVID-19 since they have gone through it. The Chinese ROS1+ Lung Cancer Support Group has about 450 patients and caregivers. They distribute all over China, and some are, like me, in North America, Australia and Europe.
In China, especially in Wuhan, the patients didn’t practice voluntary quarantine and social distance until the beginning of February. But they were using the masks, even now the epidemic is over and the life in Wuhan gradually recovered. The lung cancer patients were very nervous about the closure of drug stores and the hospitals. This is because, for the patients under targeted therapy, they got targeted medication once a month. Also, the hospitals were used for COVID-19 patients, so not accepted cancer patients. Some lung cancer patients who had appointments with their doctors were indeed delayed. In Wuhan, the doctors gave the patients with targeted therapy 2-month medication, and the post office or delivery was never interrupted.
Unlike the patients and caregivers here, I found much more calmness from Chinese lung cancer patients and caregivers. I’ve hardly seen the patients and caregivers complain about scariness and frustration from WeChat*. When some patients get depressed and upset about the COVID-19 and lung cancer, there were always more patients and caregivers to calm them down and to share their experience on WeChat.
The Chinese ROS1 group opened another WeChat page for patients and caregivers to talk and to get connected. They posted photos and videos and to share their stories, and some of them were about COVID-19. I specifically asked and heard that they hadn’t heard any cases of lung cancer patients getting COVID-19. At least, it means Chinese lung cancer patients were not directly suffered from COVID-19 disease. It’s just my observation.
It gives me much confidence even though COVID-19 is such a severe disease. If those Chinese lung cancer patients can survive COVID-19, why cannot I? Why cannot you?
Wash hands and stay home!
We are a group of lung cancer patients, and Lung cancer is a deadly disease. We have “kissed death” before. We know what afraid and anxieties mean, and they lead to nowhere. We shouldn’t be so panic and overly scared, but be cautious. The Canadian government, as well as the USA government, makes different economic packages to help to ease people’s life, and healthcare workers are doing everything they can to slow down and to stop the pandemic. As the patients, we have to follow the rule: Wash our hands and stay home, just be cautious!!
*WeChat is the Chinese version of Facebook.
My friend HaoPei (斐皓) is a Stage 4 lung cancer patient, 38 years old. He passed away in early February 2020. This picture was taken by him when he travelled in rural China after his diagnosis. 斐皓, 一路走好。