Thursday, December 31, 2020

Some thoughts....


Today is the last day of the year, and what a difficult year it has been. Although our retreat was held virtually, it proved yet again, to be of enormous benefit for all who attended. As one woman said, "I feel like the cowardly lion who had courage but did not know it.You all made me see that I can do this."

The bonds that are created are deep, powerful, and restorative. Being with other women who have gone through what you are experiencing, whose very presence can feel like a lifeline, is the gift that we give each other. 

When I was first diagnosed with Stage 3C ovarian cancer in 2015, I never imagined that a retreat existed.  I was just a few months out of treatment when I attended. I was excited to go but also nervous because I wouldn't know anyone there. And really, who isn't at least a little shy about spending time with a bunch of strangers? Yet, I have never been made to feel so welcome, and when the time came to leave I knew that I had been given an incredible gift. One new attendee this year best summed up the experience, "I am now part of a community of wise, compassionate women." And so for all of us out there, may 2021 bring us the courage, wisdom and compassion we need to meet whatever challenges the new year brings.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

People Who Are Immune-Suppressed and Get COVID-19 May Carry the Virus for More than Two Months

This headline appeared in today's SurvivorNet headline and was written by Sonya Collins. Given that many are in treatment, this article should be of interest.  

People who have COVID-19 after immune-compromising cancer treatments may carry the virus longer than others — and longer than previously believed. According to data on a small group of patients, published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, this type of patient may shed detectable virus for up to two months after infection. This could mean that these patients continue to be contagious during that time. The new study underscores the fact that COVID-19 is still a relatively new virus and researchers continue to learn more about it every day.

“The data in this study, while small, suggests that isolation of immunocompromised cancer patients positive for COVID-19 may need to be longer than currently recommended given that we show that they can shed live virus for up to 60 days,” Esther Babady, PhD, tells SurvivorNet. Babady, a microbiologist and director of Clinical Microbiology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, co-authored the study.

Immunocompromised Patients with COVID-19 May Be Contagious Longer

For the study, researchers tracked 20 immunocompromised cancer patients who tested positive for COVID-19. They took repeated nasal swabs from the group. Out of the 20 patients, three continued to shed detectable virus for 25 days or more. One of those three was still shedding virus at 61 days.

But how could the virus stick around for so long in immunocompromised people?

“The immune system of these patients is not functioning at full force because of either their disease or their treatment, which results in an inability of the body to clear the virus,” Babady says.

What If You’re on Immune-Suppressing Cancer Treatments?

Current CDC guidelines say that immunocompromised people are not likely to be contagious for more than 20 days after their symptoms start. But this study suggests that it’s possible.

If you are receiving immune-suppressing treatments for cancer, these study results underscore the importance of avoiding COVID-19 in the first place. Follow all federal guidelines, which include wearing a mask in public, avoiding large gatherings or crowds, staying six feet away from others, and washing your hands frequently.