The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a new challenge for those battling breast cancer today. This hydra-headed challenge manifests across issues relating to equity, advocacy, and access to care for cancer patients as the pandemic rages.
Chemotherapy – for all its effectiveness in combating cancer – unfortunately, suppresses the immunity of the patient. Generally designed to inhibit the aggressive growth of cancerous cells, chemotherapy could eventually handicap the patient’s immune response, as seen in its impact on their red and white blood cell count.
You will, therefore, agree that cancer patients face even higher risks from the pandemic. Sad, isn’t it?
Well, the reality is that the pandemic has sparked a structural overhaul not only in society but also in the healthcare system. Many treatment algorithms and previously established medical traditions are helplessly morphing in adaptation to the disruptions triggered by the virus.
It is definitely not heartwarming to see the swathes of COVID patients strewn across hospitals today, extensively stressing the system. Come on, there was no way cancer patients weren’t going to be affected.
With an exponentially hectic schedule, healthcare providers have been forced to reschedule critical treatment procedures for patients like surgery, sometimes repeatedly. You guessed right! This comes with an alarming possibility of derailing the treatment’s progression.
Undoubtedly, such a scenario can be traumatic for breast cancer patients who, having undergone chemotherapy (with its accompanying nightmares like quick fatigue, nausea, and pain), now lack the typical stability and agility we are lavished with as totally healthy individuals.
In some cases, patients have been put on pills to compensate for the delays in surgery (possibly due to the inappropriateness or endangering nature of the prevailing hospital environment for such treatments), helping the patients shrink their tumors in the short term. In truth, there isn’t much this can do.
The scale of preference has greatly changed – mostly adversely for cancer patients. You would have noticed how the COVID has jiggled prioritization procedure for specific treatments and screening.
Effectively, access to quality health care for cancer patients has been severely threatened. Not the best of news for 2020, I suppose.
There is even more to worry about. There is also the financial component of securing vital cancer treatment when you need it. Here, oral parity plays a huge role. The manner of administering a drug largely determines its affordability.
The coronavirus storm has forced some patients to pay more to obtain oral medications from their local pharmacies due to the hospital’s relative inaccessibility and scarcity of in-person consultancy from their physicians.
These aggravated costs can be biting, particularly for patients of color in underserved communities, facing a fierce economic war of survival.
All these evils gang up to pump the