The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to its knees, preventing many events from taking place and closing the doors of uncountable businesses. People across the world were advised to stay inside and only leave the house for necessities. At first it was strange, uncomfortable, and scary. As time moved forward, many people accepted the new normal and may have even become a little bit lax on the restrictions. Thirty-four-year-old Nicole, however, has had to remain diligent to remain alive.
“Life has been crazy and scary all at the same,” Nicole explained. “Cancer patients don’t have an immune system and we can get sick very easily.”
In late 2018, Nicole had chronic and crippling lower back pain. She also began to notice blood in her urine and extremely swollen feet. When she began to experience incontinence, she knew something was seriously wrong. Once she was able to visit her doctor, she was informed that she had bladder cancer and would need chemotherapy three days a week for the next year of her life, followed by another six months of radiation treatments.
“I lost all of my hair, even my eyebrows and eyelashes,” Nicole recalled. “I was throwing up all of the time and in severe pain. The doctor appointments were the most challenging part, though. Having a port put in and physically going through chemo was draining. I slept a lot.”
When Nicole’s journey with cancer began in 2018, she quickly adapted the lives of her and her two sons. Her calendar was full of appointments and her cancer-related expenses were high. In fact, even with insurance, her medications cost upwards of $50,000. With the help of her grandparents, they navigated each challenge as a family and she entered partial remission. Just as the burden of the disease was about to lighten, COVID-19 threw additional challenges their way.
“Being a single mom is hard in and of itself and adding cancer plus the stress of the pandemic has been beyond terrifying,” Nicole shared. “My anxiety has been at an all-time high.”
Nicole had to continue treatment in the midst of a pandemic. She knew that if she came in contact with the virus, her chance of survival would be extremely low. In such a short time, Nicole has adapted to many versions of a ‘new normal’. Despite the many challenges she has faced, Nicole has remained full of faith, optimism, and strength. Though she is still receiving treatment, full remission is a bright light at the end of the long tunnel.
“I’m currently having chemo once a week for a total of six weeks,” Nicole said. “Once I complete that, I will have another PET scan to see if the cancer is 100% gone. I’m very hopeful and optimistic that I will be in full remission soon!”
The National Foundation for Cancer Research has compiled tools and resources for cancer patients regarding COVID-19. To learn more, please visit NFCR’s COVID-19 Resource Center.
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