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What cancer patients, their families, and caregivers need to know about COVID-19.

Immune system

123Kra
Posts: 6
Joined: Mar 2017

What precautions did you guys take to prevent infection or illness?

 

we are doing the usual... hand washing, instant hand sanitizers, washing fruits/vegetables, a clean house.

 

we live in nyc, so germs are everywhere the second my husband steps out the house. Should he not go places Outside the apartment?

 

can he go to the gym to walk on the treadmill and keep his strength up? Or is he too at risk for germs?

 

what are the reasonable lifestyle precautions to take Under the ABVD regime As a stage IV patient?

lindary's picture
lindary
Posts: 684
Joined: Mar 2015

I live in the Chgo area. Germs everywhere here too. I was diagnosed with stage 4 follicular non hodgkins lymphoma. I did 6 cycles of R-Chop. My treatment date was a Tues.  By Wed of the following week I would be back at work. I would have gone back sooner but the prednisone part of the treatment (100 mg for 5 days) left me light-headed and I didn't feel safe driving. I work in a large IT dept. My walk from my car to the office was about the length of a football field. Once in the building I had to walk the same distance to get to my desk. 

I kept some hand sanitizer on my desk for mylsef and anyone who came by my desk. My boss told the people in our area that if they felt like they were sick, work from home if it was a day I would be in there. Keep in mind they say a person is usually contagious a day or 2 before they know they are sick. That means I was probably exposed to a lot of bad germs. Never got sick. 

As far as going out. That I did kind of limit. My husband did all of the grocery shopping. I did go to our Walgreens a few times but not until a few days before the next treatment. Figured my white cell count would be the highest by then. That was also the time our kids and grandkids would visit, for the same reason and only if they weren't sick. I also continued to go to church on Sundays.   I look at it this way. Staying in the house all of the time would drive me crazy. Going out and oing all the normal errands and such was probably not the smartest thing for me to do. So I kind of found a middle ground by doing only 1 outside adventure each cycle but only if I felt up to it. 

po18guy
Posts: 1046
Joined: Nov 2011

Some of your husband's risks will be directly related to his bloodcounts. Since they will be drawing blood on a regular basis, I would communicate with doctor or nurse regarding his relative risk of infection. As to gyms and exercise equipment, they are danger spots. A mask and cotton gloves, as transplant patients use, would be a good idea. In my case, I had zero infections, colds or flu through eight years of treatment, including a stem cell transplant, so the danger may or may not manifest itself. Still, it is easier to prevent than to cure. 

Sal0101's picture
Sal0101
Posts: 127
Joined: Sep 2015

There's always great advise here! My husband was hilarious! Before I came home from my stem cell transplant he washed down everything he could think of with Clorox Wipes. Of course I could do better, and believe me we were NOT crazy about a totally clean house. We had had sanitizer in every room and I had one hanging on my purse and in cars.   With my different chemo's I stayed away from all the sick people at work. Luckily my employer allowed me to work from home.  I warned any visitors that if they even thought they had a cold they couldn't visit, and yes I did miss a few holidays. 

I still did grocery shopping (washed down the cart handle) and the occasional Target, Kohl's, etc.,  but wore a mask if my counts were at their lowest.  I washed all fruit, veggies, soaked berries, and overlooked meats. 

No gardening, which was hard for me.  My 85 year old neighbor actually cut down some of my fall flowers for me, and my husband did the clean up with me pointing and giving instructions of course. 

You and your husband can do it!

Sharon

 

 

Jeff148's picture
Jeff148
Posts: 183
Joined: Apr 2014

These are all great suggestions. I stopped going to crowded places and didn't shake hands with people..they understood. I did go to the gym and wiped the treadmill down with the sanitary towl before and after...and used a lot of hand sanitzer. Not living in the big city, we boiled our water. You will do great!!!!

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 3384
Joined: May 2012

123,

My oncologist had a slightly different view of all this when I was on R-ABVD.  A person best avoids sickness when on chemo the same wasy a completely healthy person avoids sickness. Commonsense, mainstream recommendations should suffice, such as Jeff mentioned.  Avoiding crowds, hand sanatation are usually enough.  Ban sick individuals from visiting, obviously.

My wife one day asked my oncologist (who has a stunning 5 Board Certifications:  Medical Oncology, Hematology, Internal Medicne, and two others), "what do we do about his weakened immune system ?"

He replied: "Immune resistance is basically equivalent to the range of healthy WBCs. Since his WBC count is normal, his immune system is not really very compromised."  In other words, the common sense thing.  A slight oversimplification, but basically correct.   I would not go to a basketball game or train station on chemo, but neither is becoming a hermit necessary either. 

max

po18guy
Posts: 1046
Joined: Nov 2011

In 2008, I was in law enforcement. During CHOEP-14, which is a fairly intense chemo regimen, I worked 10 hour night shifts and transported prisoners to and from jail. Zero infections, even though I worked in a pathogen-rich environment. I am at much more risk now, having a baby immune system transplanted into me, and being on substaital immune suprssion drugs on top of that. Bearing this risk out are the Rhinovirus, Human Respiratoy Syncytial Virus and pneumonia that I am currently fighting (and have been since the first week of February). But, during chemo, common-sense measures should be fine. He may have to be a bit of a recluse, but his overall health before, as well as where it is now, will bear on this. A healthy level of white blood cells = a healthy level of protection, to paraphrase what Max wrote.

Sal0101's picture
Sal0101
Posts: 127
Joined: Sep 2015

I can honestly say over the years I ate apples off of trees, veggies out of gardens and berries right off the plant.  Fruit and veggies from the grocery store also.  With a compromised Immune system I did take a step back and thought about the things I do everyday.  Common sense...wash veggies from the grocery story, be careful with anything from the garden and take precautions around sick people.  These are things I do now and will forever regardless of where my WBC is...3.2 today BTW.  I've had a few fevers, nothing the docs ever linked to an infection. 

My son is a police officer, and my daughter a NP( nurse practitioner), and I have a huge extended family. I knew they could encounter something, somewhere, and pass it on to me.  Common sense with a bit (OK a lot) more intensity when the immune system is compromised works!

Sharon

 

lindary's picture
lindary
Posts: 684
Joined: Mar 2015

I have never been one to be overly concerned about sanitizing my living or work space. so when I was diagnosed my boss (a cancer survivor) made sure I have hand sanitizer on my desk and that it was available around the office. I found out later she lectured everyone on our team aboutusing the hand sanitizer. We did also have it in every room in our house.  Yes I avoided people who said they weren't feeling well but keep in mind that people are usually contagious before they feel sick. Yet I never did get sick duirng treatment. 

Rocquie's picture
Rocquie
Posts: 838
Joined: Mar 2013

In spite of all our precautions, I did have trouble with infections. I was hospitalized 3 times. Finally, my dose of CHOP was adjusted and I took prophalactic antibiotics (Cipro-ugh) with each cycle. After that, I was able to finish my chemo. In addition to the above excellent ideas, I would advise you to keep close watch on your husband's temperature and report any fevers right away. 

Best,

Rocquie

 

Simon24
Posts: 45
Joined: Oct 2015

I second Rocquie's comment about watching your husband's temperature.  Having a good digital thermometer on hand is a big help.  We bought one that was fast and turned color if a fever was present.  I wish you and your husband all the best.                         Simone

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