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Coronavirus and breast cancer survivors

Breast cancer thrivers: Are you considered immune compromised? Are you more at risk for being infected? Can you get the virus through food preparation?

I’ve received many questions like these, and I hear you. Now I’ve compiled a list of accurate, reliable sources to answer these and other questions relevant to thrivers. Information is actively changing, and these links provide information about what we know right now.

Breast cancer thrivers are uniquely qualified to handle upheavals in schedules, face down scary news, and even isolation, such as when immunity is compromised. Call on your special powers that helped you get through breast cancer treatment. You have a lot to teach the world.

There are three sections to this post:

1) General information for breast cancer survivors.

2) Food Safety and the Coronovirus.

3) Getting support

And one more section on fun! I hope you find this information helpful.

Note: This information is geared for breast cancer thrivers past active treatment. This information does not constitute medical advice. Always check with your doctor for individual needs. As information may have been updated, check the website for updates.

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General Information for Breast Cancer Survivors

  • Question: How long after cancer treatments are patients at higher risk of infection?

Dr. Marc Braunstein, of NYU’s Perlmutter Cancer Center says: “As we know, some chemotherapies can have a prolonged immunosuppressant effect beyond two years.”

But most patients bounce back more quickly.

“If you’ve been off treatment for six months or more and you’re not on maintenance therapy, it’s reasonable to assume that your immune system has been revitalized,” says Dr. Braunstein. “That’s not a scientific pinpoint number, but it’s an average.”


Coronavirus and Cancer Survivors: How Long Are You Extra-Vulnerable After Treatment Ends?

Actors Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced they tested positive for coronavirus. Wilson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. Is she at greater risk? Not necessarily.

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Give Coronavirus Update — Will Her Past Cancer Battle Affect Her Recovery?

  • Question: Can a Blood Test Show How Immunocompromised You Are?

Yes. Having a compromised immune system puts you in the higher risk category, and there are blood tests to confirm your status.

Also: Menopausal-inducing drugs for breast cancer might drive you crazy, but they're not going to do anything to your immune system.


Coronavirus Risk: Can a Blood Test Show How Immunocompromised You Are?

  • Question: What if you have surgery scheduled soon?

The decision to proceed with surgery will ultimately depend on several factors, such as your diagnosis, the urgency of your surgery, travel requirements, the protocols your team and hospital have in place, and your comfort level. Many places are canceling non-emergent surgeries. It is very important for you to discuss this with your medical team.


Coronavirus: What Breast Cancer Patients Need To Know

Coronavirus: What Cancer Patients Need to Know.

  • Question: Since screening locations are closing, what should women do who are now delaying their annual mammograms?

Radiation Oncologist Dr. Stuart Samuels of University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center addressed such questions as: Is there an increased risk for women in treatment or cancer survivors? How do survivors know if they are still immunocompromised?

Webinar (replay should be posted soon):

Living With Cancer & COVID-19: What you need to know.

  • Question: Where can I find resources for cancer survivors?

A few excellent resources for all cancer survivors.


What Cancer Patients, Survivors and Caregivers Need to Know about the Coronavirus

Current guidelines for cancer treatment continuation, pause and/or suspension vary. “Overall, many cancer patients are scared and confused and, in some cases, angry,” says Stacey Tinianov, a 6-year breast cancer survivor…”

The One-Two Punch: Cancer and Coronavirus

Food Safety and the Coronavirus


  • Question: What should I stock in my pantry?

I've posted on Instagram and Facebook (see links on this page) on plant food ideas to stock up on. It's important not to overbuy. There is plenty of food in our food supply, and this will give stores time to reshelve.

Here are great resources from my own Oncology Dietietic Group.


Nutritious Food Ideas to Stock your Pantry

  • Question: Is the food supply safe?

The CDC, FDA, and the British and US Dietetic Associations have issued guidelines for food safety. There is no evidence of transmission from food, but precautions must be taken. Here are links for the most reliable and accurate sources of information.


Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019

How to Protect Yourself

Should I be Concerned about Food Safety and COVID-19 Transmission?

Is it Safe to Eat Fresh Produce? Yes (With Caveats)

How to Protect Yourself From Coronavirus When Grocery Shopping

Please know to ignore any immune boosting claims for food or supplements. You can support your immune system by washing hands well, quality sleep, reducing stress, eating a variety of foods, taking your medications, and using supplements only to correct nutritional deficiencies. Also, stay in touch with family and friends. Physical isolation does not have to mean emotional isolation.

Making Health and Nutrition a Priority During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

  • Question: How do I stay active?

How to Stay active and Connected during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

  • Getting Support

Cancer survivors are uniquely equipped to handle life-altering changes.


Lessons from Cancer Patients in the Time of Coronavirus

Many support groups and classes are now online. This is just a sampling.

The Cancer Support Community’s TOLL-FREE Cancer Support Helpline is for anyone affected by cancer. Call 1-888-793-9355, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. ET.

Cancer support at every stage for breast and ovarian cancer.

Breast Cancer Resources for coping with COVID-19

6 ways Breast Cancer Community can Reduce Stress during COVID-19

  • And finally, fun!

Tune into an aquarium live web cam.

Stuck at Home? These 12 Famous Museums Offer Virtual Tours You Can Take on Your Couch (Video)

Stay safe, stay well, and stay home!

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