CORONAVIRUS & THE CANCER CARD

Posted by on Mar 29, 2020 in COVID

coronavirus-48337541920

COVID-19 can take a variable clinical course – from mild symptoms lasting a couple of weeks to a far more serious problem, a pneumonia that can rapidly cause acute respiratory distress and in turn lead to terminal multi system/organ failure. Risk factors for more serious outcomes include: being male, being older (>65), preexisting conditions (including lung disease, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer). However, young adults can also become very ill , and with timely treatment elders may survive. Published risk factors may also be skewed by national differences, for example far more Chinese and Italian men smoke than in other countries, as well as the challenges of data collection in a full-on emergency in progress.

Little data and guidance on COVID-19 has been forthcoming for special clinical populations – from the immunosuppressed by pathology or by medication (eg autoimmune disease). Cancer is considered one of the co-morbidities increasing risk of serious outcomes in COVID infection (~10% increase). However the forensic data does not explain the underlying basis of this cancer statistic. (eg, those in treatment? vs remission?). It’s important – because people who have been dealing with cancer for a while build their own “coping toolkit”, and ironically, because of this they may well be better prepared than others spiritually, psychologically and physiologically for the chaos, confusion, and fear that pervades all aspects of life in the current COVID era. The cancer card has some benefits after all….

 

  • Death and Dying. A cancer diagnosis is a wake-up call. Often for the first time, newly diagnosed patients come face to face with the reality that they will die. Although the first reaction to the “ Big C” is often shock, fear and trauma, the reality is this can at the same time be a life-changing pivot point; for those who do their work, who begin to integrate their dying into their living, it is the trailhead of a healing journey whether their disease is cured or not. There are many real practical anxieties for almost everyone in the current COVID meltdown, especially around loss of employment, income, health insurance, and managing childcare, or dealing with shelter-in-place ordinances without resources to do so, fear of the disease itself, and much more. However, some elements of fear in this pandemic are plausibly due to the same demons almost all cancer patients confront inour cultural denial of death forces , yet which can lead to profound inner inner transformation.
  • Chaos and Uncertainty. People beginning their cancer journey go through an upheaval and upending of every aspect of life as it was before diagnosis. Long-time friends simply disappear, while acquaintances may step up and provide genuine support. Others give “advice” or make medical suggestions regardless of its relevance or appropriateness. Employment can be lost, Disability takes years to claim, finances can be disastrous (cancer remains the largest cause of personal bankruptcy in the US) and insurance claims an ongoing nightmare, never mind dealing with oncology treatments and their side effects. Every scan, every blood marker can create huge anxiety –  even for those in long term remission the fear of recurrence or metastasis is ever-present. People with cancer learn how to preserve their energy, spend their resources wisely, guard their boundaries, and protect their home and other safe spaces. People with cancer have to keep their heads while all around are losing theirs. Good practice for the COVID era.
  • Immunocompetence: cancer is a process, not a thing. As I often put it, we are all cancering (verb) rather than having cancer (noun). Once active cancer is reversed, the tendency toward cancering is held in check by an immunological balancing act that pits our (host) vital energies against that of the cancer (tumor). In mainstream terms, this is called immuno-editing, an active process in which multiple invisible undercurrents and undertows constantly shift and adapt to maintain remission or prevent recurrence by denying the cancer process immune escape. Our immunological responses to both cancer and viruses are essentially the same. Our primary front line defense against cancer is an innate (hard wired) immune response: it is almost identical as the response to viral infection. A number of herbs & natural compounds have well-documented abilities to increase the robustness of this innate immune response. And for those (following my recommendations) whose cancer is in remission, stable ie not progressing to metastasis, these immuno-enhancing materials all be a part of their everyday protocols. This immunocompetence is also a massive advantage in case of exposure to SARS-C0v-2 virus. You might recall the “Immune Bootcamp” protocol that I often suggest in the earliest stages of a diagnosis while gathering information about mainstream treatment options. I am also preparing a COVID-19 prevention minibootcamp that includes some quite specific elements related to coronavirus.

More in the next blogpost (ImmuneBootcamp)