We know that today is scary, but we have all likely faced scary before. If you have been diagnosed in the past, are recently undergoing breast cancer, or just received your diagnosis, this is not necessarily uncharted territory. If you are currently in treatment or finished up recently, the feeling of isolation is likely very real to you. I remember not being able to hold my brother's first child because of my chemotherapy. I was compromised, and if, by chance, that beautiful baby were to pass me a cold, I would be in big trouble. We know to distance ourselves with low white blood cells, we know what it feels like to have to stay at home and avoid strangers and public places, but none of this experience makes what we are facing as humans today easier or less scary.
COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, is a virus that causes respiratory problems and has spread globally. Like most of you, we’re doing our best to protect ourselves by practicing increased hygiene and social distancing. Although we don’t really have answers about the virus, how long it lasts, or when we’ll all be able to get back into our normal routines, we do know how important maintaining a sense of community is during difficult times. We’re here to provide you with support and resources as we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of COVID-19. Here are our top tips from trusted partners for coping with the stress and anxiety that comes along with self-isolation.
How can I protect myself?
Breastcancer.org states, “While it can be alarming to hear news reports about the coronavirus spreading, schools and businesses closing, and events being canceled, it’s important to know that the current risk of becoming ill from this particular virus is still low for most people, as long as they are following social distancing practices.”
Sensible social distancing practices include the following, when possible:
- Avoiding public spaces
- Avoiding public transportation
- Avoiding social gatherings, especially with large numbers of people or crowds
- Working from home
- Staying at least 6 feet away from strangers when out in public
- Avoiding physical contact like handshakes, hugs, and kisses in social situations
What does this mean for breast cancer patients currently in treatment?
“Many hospitals and other healthcare facilities are delaying or canceling all elective procedures, meaning surgeries and sometimes screenings or other treatments that are not considered urgent, emergencies, or otherwise indicated for life-threatening conditions. This can be distressing if it’s happening to you or a loved one — if you’re scheduled to have a cancer screening, surgery, or other treatment, you probably feel that it’s urgent. But these tough decisions are being made to help protect people diagnosed with cancer from being infected with COVID-19 and to make sure healthcare providers have the resources they need to treat vulnerable people who do become infected with COVID-19,” says breastcancer.org.
How can I manage stress during this time?
Living Beyond Breast Cancer has an incredible podcast offering tips and advice from a licensed psychologist, Dr. Pamela Ginsberg. She states that most breast cancer patients already have the tools needed to cope with stress in their day-to-day lives. Here’s what she recommends:
- Get outside: Don’t be afraid to step outside for some fresh air and sunshine. Take a walk around your neighborhood when possible.
- Eat well: Don’t panic about food availability and continue your normal, healthy eating habits.
- Connect with your social network: Make phone calls, chat with others who may be feeling anxious, and be sure to talk about things other than COVID-19.
- Meditation: It’s a great way of quieting your system down when you’re feeling anxious.
- Sleep: Take this time at home as an opportunity to catch up on your sleep.
For more advice from Dr. Ginsberg, listen to the full episode here.
Breast Advocate reminds us that the immediate risk of being exposed to Coronavirus is still considered to be low in most communities in the United States at this time. While the situation will likely get worse before it gets better, ultimately, this too shall pass. However, the above risk-reducing measures will not only protect you but will also help decrease the spread of the virus. For more breast cancer resources download the Breast Advocate app.
Can I still shop for mastectomy bras?
We know cancer does not stop which is why, as an online retailer, we are still up and running. Our staff is practicing social distancing and working remotely until we receive further information on the virus. I will be personally packing and shipping orders in the coming weeks while my employees self-isolate to help flatten the curve. That being said, there may be a slight delay in your processing, but we are committed to serving our community and newly diagnosed patients throughout the outbreak. For anyone experiencing financial stress, remember to utilize your insurance coverage during this time.
Many of our brick and mortar partners have made the decision to close their stores to help prevent the spread of the virus, but are still taking orders via phone. Check out our full list of partners. For our Soma shoppers, see how they’re handling the situation here.
You're never alone,