COVID-19 and Cancer: Are Blood Cancer Survivors Facing a Greater Risk?

At this time three years ago, I was staring down a Hodgkin Lymphoma diagnosis. I was a healthy 34 year old who was parenting his two young daughters and playing recreational ice hockey on the weekends.

The thought that a lump I discovered on my neck one night would turn into a cancer diagnosis was something the 34 year old me couldn’t have ever imagined.

Hodgkin Lymphoma is a blood cancer that is estimated to have around 8,500 new cases in the United States for 2020 (source). It’s a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of a human’s immune system.

At the time, I chose a treatment plan that adhered to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s guidelines for the stage I was diagnosed with. This included a combination of chemotherapy and ISRT radiation therapy.

I’m fortunate to say that I’m now in remission. With some expected complications, I’ve been able to re-enter life with my own personal cancer experience in the rear-view mirror.

However, objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.

Coronavirus has stoked my fear of cancer + mortality yet again. It has given me the same sense of dread – that lead, metallic feeling in the middle of your chest – that I had the following hours and days after hearing that I was diagnosed with cancer.

It also got me searching for anything cancer survivor + coronavirus related. As someone who is in active treatment and immunosuppressed, the answer is plain and simple: This virus could be incredibly dangerous.

But what about a cancer survivor? Someone with a cancer history? Someone who hasn’t hit that magical five-year survival mark?

What about me?

I’ve found some information from reputable sources – such as this one from Fred Hutch – that broadly paint the picture that survivors could be at greater risk.

So much about cancer is the unknown. The waiting.

Those similarities are shared with coronavirus.

Fear is amplified from isolation and loneliness. Through community, we can help one another break through our fear. You see it with people offering reassurances and even humor.

I’m lucky enough to have a support system that allows me to freely express my fear. I also utilize the GRYT Health platform to do the same.

If you’re fearful and feeling isolated, seek community. You have one right here waiting for you at GRYT. Click the “GRYT Community Login” button at the top of this page or download the app on the Apple App Store / Android Google Play Store and chat with those who get it.