Finding trends in my closet

LogoAs most of you already know, I don’t shop for clothes online and I’ve mostly been staying away from brick and mortar stores since the onset of Covid-19. That leaves shopping my closet and trying to create new looks with old clothes.

When I researched fashion trends for spring and summer 2020 for an earlier post, one of the looks that appealed to me and that I could see myself wearing was the suit with Bermuda shorts.

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Had I still been teaching instead of happily retired, I could definitely have seen myself investing in one of these menswear inspired suits. They’re a nice take on business casual and if the trend doesn’t last, the pieces could still be worn separately. I didn’t realize at the time that I could create a similar look using pieces from my own wardrobe!

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I wear capris more often than shorts as I don’t think that my knees are amongst my more attractive features, but I do have several pairs of shorts including these black ones from Nike Golf. The top is cabi and the little black jacket is from Canadian fashion retailer, Reitmans. All three pieces have been in my wardrobe for several seasons.

I’m not really going anywhere these days that requires even this level of dressy, but I did have some business to take care of at the bank yesterday and even though it wasn’t necessary, it felt nice to dress up just a bit.

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HOOFING IT Across Canada update:

I’ve now walked 51.37 km since the beginning of the challenge. With over 6 weeks left, I should have no problem surpassing my personal goal of 100 km. Donations have slowed down a bit, but thanks to many generous donors, I’ve raised $1095 which is 73% of my $1500 goal. As the Canadian neuroendocrine cancer community, however, we have a long way to go to raise the $100,000 needed to continue funding much needed research. At present, we’ve raised just over $31,600.

 

and BACK!

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If you’ve been reading my blog recently, you already know that I’m participating in a fundraiser called HOOFING IT Across Canada. We, the Canadian neuroendocrine cancer (NETS) community, are working together in an effort to raise $100,000 for much needed neuroendocrine cancer research. Participants have been racking up as many kilometres as we can by walking, hiking, kayaking, swimming, cycling, roller-blading, or any other forward moving activity that we can think of and tracking our individual distances. Our original goal was to record 5,514 kilometres, the distance from Newfoundland and Labrador to the Yukon, but I am very proud to announce that in less than two weeks, we’ve already surpassed 4000 km! As a result, we have a brand new goal. We’re not just HOOFING IT Across Canada, we’re HOOFING IT Across Canada and BACK! That’s right! Our new goal is 11,028 km.

Personally, I’ve walked over 33 km since July 1st. While that’s a tiny fraction of the distance that’s been covered (it helps that we have some long distance cyclists and runners in the group), I’m one third of the way to reaching my personal goal of 100 km. At this rate, I may have to increase my goal too!

Of course, the main purpose of the HOOFING IT Across Canada campaign is to raise funds for research. Once rare, NETS is now the fastest growing class of cancers worldwide, accounting for approximately 2% of all cancers. We need to know why this is. We need safer and more effective methods to prevent, detect, diagnose, treat, and ultimately cure this disease. Research is the key to transforming and saving lives and research takes money.

HOOFING IT is the easy part. Asking people for money is more difficult, especially in today’s economy when many are facing financial hardship and don’t have extra to give. By last night, however, we had raised over $20,000 and were 20% of the way to meeting our goal. I’m extremely grateful to those who have made donations on my behalf. At $875, I’m almost 60% of the way to meeting my personal goal of $1500. If you would like to add to this amount, please click here to visit my fundraising page. No amount is too small. Every dollar brings us one step closer to finding the answers we’re looking for.

In the meantime, I’m off to the city tomorrow for CT scans to see if there’s been any change to my NETS tumours over the past six months. I won’t be meeting with the doctor and finding out the results until August 6, so I’ll try to provide an update after that.

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Walking in the rain

The past few days have been sunny and warm, just the way summer should be, but today has been mostly cool and cloudy again. I really didn’t feel like putting on my zebra stripes and going for a walk. Cancer’s a bit like that. I don’t only have it on days when I feel like it! I wake up with it every morning and I go to bed with it every night. These days, I’m not just walking because I want to. I’m walking to increase awareness of neuroendocrine cancer (NETS) and to raise funds for research.

As I walked, I thought about how fortunate I am to be able to do this. I don’t live where I’m able to attend support group meetings nor do I really feel that I need them, but I am part of several online groups for patients and caregivers. Every day I hear from people whose NETS stories are so much worse than mine. I walk for them as well as for myself. I walk in memory of those we’ve lost and I walk for those who will be diagnosed with this increasingly common type of cancer in the future. I walk in hope that money for research will eventually result in a cure.

I was walking in the exact opposite corner of our small town when it started to rain! (I think I need to find a zebra striped umbrella.) There was no way that I could suddenly transport myself back to the comfort of my warm, dry house. I had to keep walking. Cancer’s like that too. When you’re diagnosed, you suddenly find yourself a long way outside your comfort zone and there’s no going back. I treat my life with cancer a lot like a walk. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. I refuse to stand around in the rain feeling sorry for myself!

When I walk through the corridors of the cancer clinic as I’ll do again later this month, I can’t help feeling like I don’t really belong there. I look and feel so well compared to most of the people around me. It’s called “survivor’s guilt” and it’s common to those of us who have or are surviving cancer. We can’t help asking “why them?” and “why not me?” I only know that when all this started, God promised to take care of me and, while it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, He’s been doing a great job of it ever since. So here I am, feeling strong and able to HOOF IT Across Canada!

Since the campaign started on July 1, I’ve logged 12.96 kilometres. Reaching my goal of 100 km by September 7 should be no problem, but far more important is the money that I raise for NETS cancer research. As a Canada-wide community, we hope to raise $100,000. I set my personal goal at $1500 and at $550, I’m 36% of the way! Thank you so very much to those of you who have already donated. I’ll try not to bore you with too many updates! For those who haven’t donated yet and who would like to, you can find my personal fundraising page here.

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It’s Canada Day and Day 1 of HOOFING IT Across Canada!

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Today is Canada Day, the 153rd anniversary of our country’s birth as a nation. It’s also Day 1 of the HOOFING IT Across Canada fundraising campaign for neuroendocrine cancer research. Today I begin counting the kilometres that I walk and/or hike between now and September 7th. Joining with participants from the neuroendocrine cancer (NETS) community across the country, we hope to record 5,514 kilometres, the distance from Newfoundland and Labrador to the Yukon! We also hope to raise $100,000!

I’m very grateful to those who made donations following Saturday’s post. Thanks to their generosity, I’ve already raised slightly more than 20% of my goal. There’s still a long way to go though!

If you haven’t already, I hope that you’ll consider going to my fundraising page and making a donation. No amount is too small! Every cent received will go toward neuroendocrine cancer research and hopefully bring us closer to understanding what causes this disease and to ultimately finding a cure.

I’ve been asked several questions regarding making a donation, so I’ll answer those here:

  1. What methods of payment are accepted?  You can make your donation using a credit card (VISA, MasterCard or American Express), PayPal, or a CanadaHelps gift card. 
  2. Can I donate from outside Canada?  Yes! Absolutely! Research conducted in Canada will benefit patients around the world. Many of my readers live in the US or elsewhere and some have already made donations. Your credit card statement will automatically show the value of your donation in your local currency.
  3. Will I receive a tax receipt?  Again, the answer is yes. When you make a donation, you’ll be asked for your email address and a tax receipt will be sent to that address immediately. Only Canadian tax receipts are issued however, so if you’re donating from elsewhere, you might want to check your country’s income tax policies to see whether or not you can use a Canadian tax receipt when you file your tax return.
  4. Can my business make a donation?  Yes. Simply select the “Corporate/Group” option under Donor Type when filling out the Donor and Tax Receipt Information section.

I hope that helps. If you have any other questions, please let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them. In the meantime, I’m off to watch a Canada Day parade later this morning and then it’s time to start walking!

HOOFING IT Across Canada!

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Today I’m super excited to share something that’s very close to my heart and to give you an opportunity to participate!

It’s almost 7 years since I was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer (NETS). Once the shock of learning that I had a cancer that I’d never heard of and that I’d be living with it for the rest of my life wore off, it became important to me to do what I could to help raise awareness of this little known disease and to support fundraising efforts for research, better treatments, and patient support. That’s why I’m going to be HOOFING IT Across Canada with CNETS Canada!

Between July 1st and September 7th, the Canadian neuroendocrine cancer community will be working together in an effort to raise $100,000 for neuroendocrine cancer research! Participants will rack up as many kilometres as they can by walking, hiking, kayaking, swimming, cycling, roller-blading, or any other forward moving activity that they can think of and tracking their individual distances. Together, we aim to record 5,514 kilometres, the distance from Newfoundland and Labrador to the Yukon! In the days of Covid-19, the beauty of this is that we can each participate in our own community while practicing appropriate social distancing.

My goal during this campaign is to walk and/or hike 100 kilometres and to raise a minimum of $1500. That’s where you come in! I’m hoping that I can persuade you to visit my fundraising page here and make a donation. No amount is too small! Every cent that is received by CNETS will be directed to neuroendocrine cancer research. We need to know what causes this disease and we need to find a cure!

If you’re in Sedgewick, you’ll probably see me walking around town or out on the walking path wearing my zebra stripes and from time to time I’ll post updates here on the blog.

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Please make a donation!

Celebrating survival!

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Today, the first Sunday of June, is National Cancer Survivors Day, an annual, worldwide celebration of life set aside to honour the millions of people worldwide who are living with and beyond cancer and to raise awareness of the challenges that they face.

Major advances in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment have resulted in longer survival, but a cancer diagnosis can leave a host of problems in its wake. Physical, financial, and emotional hardships often persist for years after diagnosis and treatment. Depending on where they live, survivors often contend with rapidly rising drug costs, inadequate insurance coverage, difficulty finding or keeping employment, and a lack of understanding from family and friends. Despite these difficulties, cancer survivors can live active, productive, inspiring lives.

So what is a survivor? To many, the term ‘cancer survivor’ suggests a person who has beaten their cancer; perhaps one who has been cancer free for several years, but I like the definition used by the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation. “A ‘survivor’ is anyone living with a history of cancer – from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life.”

In other words, I am a survivor! In fact, I’m a three times survivor.

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I live with cancer every day. Unless a cure is found for neuroendocrine cancer (NETS) within my lifetime or God performs a miracle on my behalf, I will never be cancer free. People have a hard time grasping the idea of a chronic cancer. The usual assumption is that patients either die of their disease or they are cured, thereby becoming cancer survivors, but I look at my situation differently. I may eventually die of my cancer or I may die with it, but either way, I am a survivor! Fortunately my NETS is stable at this point and it doesn’t significantly impact my day to day life. I’ve had all the PRRT treatments that I can have, but a monthly injection given here in my home by a visiting nurse seems to be keeping things under control. I had my 87th of these “butt darts” just over a week ago.

I’m also a cancer survivor in the more tradition sense, as in one who had the disease, but is now free of it. As many of you know, seven months after my NETS diagnosis, I was diagnosed with a second, completely unrelated cancer that was removed surgically. Six weeks of radiation followed and, since that time, there has been no recurrence.

Cancer number three, most likely caused by the radiation that I received for the other two, was discovered in my thyroid almost exactly a year ago. Though it’s not a particularly aggressive form of cancer, it’s the one that concerns me the most right now. I was supposed to see my specialist two months ago and have an ultrasound to determine whether or not the cancer is growing. Thanks to Covid-19, that didn’t happen and it’s been eight months since my thyroid was last looked at. Though my specialist still isn’t seeing patients except in emergency situations, I decided to do a bit of self-advocating and his office is now in the process of trying to arrange for me to have an ultrasound done in a hospital closer to home in a small city that has only had one Covid-19 patient.

Yes, in spite of all this, I am a survivor! Survivors are people from all walks of life, of all ethnicities and income levels. They’re children, moms, dads, and grandparents. They may be your coworkers, friends, and loved ones. Traditionally, National Cancer Survivors Day celebrations have included parades, carnivals, health fairs, awareness walks, candle-lighting ceremonies, and other community events. This year, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the celebrations may be somewhat more subdued, but life with and after cancer goes on and it ought to be about more than just surviving. It ought to be about living well and that’s always something to celebrate!

 

100 pounds!

I started lifting weights in the early 1990s. It was never my intention to become a body builder, but I had recently entered my 40s and I thought that it might be a good idea to do something to try to keep in shape. We already had the equipment in the basement and hubby, who was a phys ed teacher at the time, had been lifting for several years, so I had him set up a routine for me and my lifting days began. I would never have foreseen that I’d still be lifting all these years later!

Unlike many serious lifters who work out year round, we only lift from mid October until the end of April each year; the months that the golf course is closed. We have a short summer season here in Alberta and we want to spend as much of it as possible engaging in outdoor pursuits, not working out in the basement! Over the almost three decades that I’ve been lifting, I’ve had good seasons, bad seasons, and  even one when I didn’t lift at all. We spent that year teaching English in Japan and rather than seeking out a gym to join, we spent as much time as we could seeing the country and soaking up the culture. There were also a couple of partial seasons including the winter that we headed off to China to spend a semester teaching there.

My best year to date was the winter of 2005-2006. I was 53 years old and many years pre cancer. At the end of that season, I was bench pressing 97.5 pounds. Why I never pushed myself to add just 2.5 more pounds and press 100, I’ll never know! I suspect that the golf course opened and I probably thought that I’d be able to push that little bit further the following year. In ensuing years, however, I never made it past 90 pounds again. That is until this year!

Each of the past few years, I had a midwinter PRRT treatment that set me back strength-wise, but I kept on pushing myself and refused to quit completely. Am I ever glad I did! I guess I didn’t realize how much those treatments were actually taking out of me, but I haven’t had one since last June and I cannot believe how strong I’ve felt this year. Today I did something that I gave up hope of ever doing a long time ago. I bench pressed 100 pounds! That might not seem like a lot to many more serious lifters, but to me, at 67 years old with two cancers, it was huge!

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It was back in February that I first caught a glimpse of potentially reaching a new personal best. It was definitely on a distant horizon, but barring injury or sickness, it might just be possible. It was very shortly after that thought crossed my mind, however, that we got the call telling us that my father was dying. We had to drop everything and head for Vancouver. With that interruption, I thought the possibility was gone, but when we got home, I picked up where I’d left off and soon realized that it might still happen. I’ve continued lifting later into the spring than I normally do partially because, with the Covid-19 shutdown, there wasn’t a lot else to do, but mostly because I was so close to reaching my goal and I simply couldn’t let it slip through my fingers this time.

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Definitely feeling pretty proud of myself!

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One day at a time

I’ve been pondering why it is that I don’t seem to be as stressed out by the Covid-19 shutdown as many people around me are. First of all, I acknowledge, as I have before, that I have it easier than many. As a retiree, I don’t have a business to close, a job to lose, or children at home. Trusting in a God who makes manna also makes all the difference in the world, but I believe that there’s another factor as well.

For most of my life I was a long term planner to such an extent that I tended to live more in the future than the present. When I retired a little over a decade ago, one of my primary goals was to learn to live more in the moment. I didn’t anticipate that cancer would be what it took to teach me that, but when we’re not guaranteed a future (none of us really is), we start to look at life quite differently and each day becomes a gift. What I’ve discovered about myself during this unusual time is that I truly have met my goal! While people all around me are worrying and making dire predictions about how long this is going to last, I’m finding myself quite unbothered by that aspect of it. I’ve learned to inhabit one square on the calendar at a time and I’m not giving a lot of thought to what the future will bring. It’s very much a “que sera, sera” attitude, but it seems to be serving me well!

I’m sad that I won’t be able to celebrate with two grandchildren who have birthdays in the next couple of weeks and that the trip we were planning for next month had to be put on hold. I’m also hoping that we won’t have to miss a whole season of camping and golf, but mostly I’m just living one day at a time and not worrying about what next week or next month might hold.

An old Merle Haggard song keeps running through my head:

One day at a time, sweet Jesus, that’s all I’m asking from you.
Give me the strength to do everyday what I have to do.
Yesterday’s gone, sweet Jesus, and tomorrow may never be mine,
So for my sake teach me to take one day at a time.

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In closing, I want to be absolutely clear that I’m not suggesting that everyone should be experiencing this time of uncertainty in the same way that I am. Of course, I’m deeply concerned for those who are living in fear and for whom the outcome might be quite devastating. I’m simply enjoying the fact that I’ve met my goal and learned to live in the present moment.

Stay home, stay safe and I hope that you can find some joy in this day!

Coping with the new normal

I was supposed to be in the city this afternoon for an appointment with Dr W concerning cancer #3 which is located in my thyroid. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, that didn’t happen. Clinic visits are being restricted to only the most urgent cases while people like myself are required to make do with a phone call from the doctor. Had I been in the office, Dr W would have done an ultrasound to determine whether or not there has been any change to my thyroid since I last saw him six months ago. We both agreed that that would have been the best scenario. If I was able to have an ultrasound done in the community where I live, we might have gone with that option, but the closest place that I could do that would be the hospital located an hour away. Since we both know that a hospital is a higher risk location than his clinic would be, we agreed that that wouldn’t be a good choice. Instead, we wait. We wait until the Covid-19 threat passes and I’m able to see him in his office again. He’s predicting June or July, but no one knows for sure. We wait and we pray that the cancer doesn’t grow or spread; that the additional two or three months doesn’t make a difference.

I was also planning to stop into the University Hospital dental clinic this afternoon to pick up a supply of the fluoride gel that I use once a day to protect my teeth from harmful effects of the radiation that I received after cancer #2 was surgically removed.  Thankfully, though, that can be sent to me by mail.

As we enter the fourth week since our province declared a state of emergency and services began to shut down, we’ve all experienced many changes. Most, like accessing my fluoride, have been fairly simple to deal with, while others, like not being able to see Dr W and have my scheduled ultrasound, are more challenging and may have serious long term effects.

Thankfully, for retirees like hubby and I, the impact of Covid-19 has thus far been easier to bear than it has been for many others. We don’t have a business to close, jobs to lose, or children to teach at home. Nevertheless, the novelty of staying home 24/7 wears pretty thin and many of the frustrations that go along with the current situation affect us all. In light of this, I thought I’d share a few things that are helping me deal with our new normal.

Routine.  I like routine at the best of times, but it’s even more important in times of uncertainty. This doesn’t mean that I can’t be flexible or spontaneous, but having some structure to my day really helps keep me on an even keel.

Adequate sleep.  I try to go to bed at night and get up in the morning at about the same time each day. That takes a bit of self-discipline. I tend to be a night owl and I could easily stay up way too late, but I know that I function best if I get about 8 hours of sleep a night. Thankfully, in spite of the fact that I’ve had a couple of nights where odd dreams that probably indicate an elevated stress level have kept me from sleeping well, most nights have not been like that and I feel well rested.

Exercise.  I’m very fortunate that, unlike many people who are finding it difficult to exercise because their gyms have closed, I have everything I need here at home. Monday to Friday my day begins with a 25 minute exercise routine that focuses on core strength, flexibility, and balance. Our basement gym consists of a treadmill, two weight benches, and a large assortment of free weights. Three afternoons a week find me down there lifting weights and on the alternate days, I either walk on the treadmill or outdoors. Sunday is usually a day of rest.

Healthy diet.  If anything, we’ve been eating better than ever since the beginning of this pandemic because I’ve been a little more intentional about meal planning. That started three weeks ago when we visited five grocery stores in one afternoon and found their meat departments almost empty! Thankfully, the shortage didn’t last and I’ve since been able to add enough to the freezer to last us quite awhile. We keep very little unhealthy snack food in the house, so even with many more hours at home, we haven’t been tempted to fill up on junk food.

Spiritual nourishment.  Prayer and Bible reading are regular parts of my daily routine that help keep me balanced. We’ve been missing the opportunity to meet in person on Sunday mornings, but we’ve been enjoying church online.

News, but not too much!  I don’t want to live with my head buried in the sand, but at the same time, I don’t want to become obsessed with every detail of what’s going on. I’ve continued my habit of reading the news after breakfast every morning. We subscribe to one newspaper online. I check the world, national, and local news each day, but I very seldom read editorials. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been watching our provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health give her daily Covid-19 update each afternoon online, but I don’t watch TV news.

Connection.  Staying in touch with friends and family by phone and online has been a vital part of staying sane. I enjoyed a lovely visit with a group of girlfriends via Zoom one evening last week and we’ve also enjoyed chats with several of our grandchildren.

Purpose.  It think one of the key ingredients to coping throughout the ups and downs of life and perhaps more than ever right now is having a sense of purpose. In addition to the usual day to day activities like meal preparation and exercising, I’ve been cleaning and reorganizing the kitchen cabinets and I’ve been using Duolingo to learn Spanish! Of course, there’s also the blog! Writing it and connecting with all of you gives me so much pleasure!

The one thing that I’d like to be doing more of these days is getting outdoors, but we seem to trapped in a never ending winter. Our snow is usually gone by the end of March, but not so this year. There’s lots of sunshine in the forecast though and our daytime temperatures are beginning to inch up over 0ºC (32ºF), so perhaps this too shall pass just as we know the pandemic will.

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So, my friends, how are you coping? What are some things that are helping you get through these most unusual times?

 

What’s my risk factor?

Before I even begin this post, especially for those who haven’t been here before, let me emphasize that I have absolutely no medical training. I am simply a neuroendocrine cancer (NETS) patient seeking answers and doing the best I can to weather the very unusual days that we all find ourselves in.

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Does my cancer and the PRRT treatments that I’ve received mean that I’m at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than the general population? Not as far as I know. The reality, as I understand it, is that no one has immunity to this virus. It’s a brand new disease that our bodies have never encountered before; never had an opportunity to develop antibodies to. That’s why I’m doing what I think everyone should be doing. I’m not hiding out in fear, but I’m hunkering down at home and only going out for necessities such as food and medications.

When we hear about those people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, this refers to those who may be at higher risk for more serious complications IF they contract the disease. That’s why it’s so important for all of us to do our part in helping prevent these populations from getting the COVID-19 virus in the first place. Am I one of the vulnerable ones? Certainly, my age puts me at higher risk than those who are younger, but I haven’t been able to find any information regarding NETS and COVID-19. In reality, such information probably doesn’t exist. At least, not yet.

So, what are those risk factors? 

  • An older adult  –  Recent figures show that more than 50% of the patients who have been admitted to an ICU with the disease and 80% of those who have died were over the age of 65. At 67, I’m at the low end of that population, but still within the high risk category.
  • People who have serious underlying medical conditions such as:
    • Heart disease  –  Not me!
    • Diabetes  –  I have been diagnosed as pre diabetic, but maintaining a careful, well disciplined diet has kept my blood sugar well regulated, so I doubt that this would put me at high risk.
    • High blood pressure  –  Experts indicate that if a person’s blood pressure is under control and they don’t have other risk factors, they probably aren’t at any greater peril than the general population. I’ve been on hypertension medication for several years and it’s been keeping my blood pressure under control but, of course, I do have other risk factors.
    • Chronic respiratory diseases  –  No again!
    • Cancer  –  This one raises lots of questions for me. Cancer is such a broad category. The word actually refers to any of the 200 different diseases, affecting many parts of the body, that are characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells that invade and damage the body’s normal tissues. Do all of them put a person at higher risk for COVID-19 complications? I doubt it, but what about the 3 completely unrelated cancers that I’ve been diagnosed with since August 2013? That’s right, 3! As I mentioned above, I haven’t been able to find any information about NETS and COVID-19, but what about my untreated thyroid cancer? At present, there has been no indication that thyroid conditions place a person at jeopardy.
  • People who have a compromised immune system from a medical condition or treatment (e.g. chemotherapy)  –  In spite of having or having had 3 different cancers over the past 6 1/2 years, I’ve never had chemotherapy, but I haven’t been able to find any information on how PRRT affects the immune system, so once again, I’m left with questions.

The immune system is the body’s natural defence system. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple questionnaire that will tell you how strong yours is. There are, however, several signs that you might have a weakened immune system:

  • Stress  –  Stress decreases the body’s lymphocytes, the white blood cells that help fight off infection. Thankfully, my life is relatively free of stress these days. For the most part, I think I can say with the apostle Paul, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”  Philippians 4:11b
  • Frequent colds or infections  –  I’ve had two colds this winter; one mild and one nasty. That’s more than I usually get, but I recovered from both in a reasonable length of time and I don’t remember the last time I’ve needed an antibiotic for an infection.
  • Frequent diarrhea or constipation  –  Diarrhea was one of the most obvious symptoms of my NETS cancer before it was diagnosed. Now medications tend to cause the opposite problem, but I can’t blame that on my immune system.
  • Wounds are slow to heal  –  I don’t think so. I haven’t had any serious wounds in recent years, but minor ones heal just fine.
  • Fatigue  –  When your immune system struggles, so does your energy level, but for the most part mine is good. My father passed away in the wee hours of March 1. I got almost no sleep that night and I definitely discovered that pulling an all-nighter in my 60s isn’t as easy as it was in my 20s! The week that followed was pretty exhausting too, but three weeks later, I’ve bounced back and feel completely rested. That seems to speak well of my immune system.

I do know, however, from regular blood tests, that my hemoglobin tends to be slightly on the low side which would make me somewhat vulnerable to infection and disease. On the other hand, I do all the right things to keep my immune system as healthy as I can. I don’t smoke, I eat a healthy diet, I maintain a healthy weight, I exercise regularly, I drink alcohol only in moderation, I get adequate sleep, I try to minimize stress, and I even wash my hands frequently!

So, what is my risk factor? I can only give a somewhat educated guess. Since I live in a sparsely populated area and I’m staying home most of the time, I’d say that my risk of getting COVID-19 is quite low. On the other hand, IF I do get it, my risk of suffering complications is probably moderately high.

Am I worried? No, but I’m definitely taking all the recommended precautions. I hope you are too!