Hi, I'm Tracy, OCRA's oncology socialworker.
I want to reach out and talk with you directly.
We've been receivingmany emails and calls about how to manage COVID-19 coronavirus andovarian cancer.
I thought it might be helpful to answer your questions andshare some helpful strategies to get through these unprecedented times.
As I'msure you've seen in the media and heard through your physicians, there is thecritical importance of self quarantine, social distancing, washing your hands, nottouching your face and we recognize that these are some of thesame recommendations that you probably received when you first startedtreatment and so this is really something that's familiar and somethingyou can do and you can be successful at it.
Each treatment team is going to offeryou a plan for your safety, safety for others, and to ensure continued access tocare.
And I think it's really most important to speak to your team, yourphysician, and maintain that patient provider contact at all times.
Communication is so so critical.
Access to care is not going to decrease.
You're going to be able to see your physicians and receive thetreatment you need.
There may be some changes to your process and protocol, some of which, and not consistently but some of which, may be decreasing thenumber of care team members that you physically see.
Some of the contacts youmay now have will be either by phone or through the hospital portal or even byemail but communication will continue.
Some well visits may be conducted nowthrough telehealth and telemedicine you know which is online and in someways interactive, but like this videotape that I'm making now.
If you arereceiving treatment, some treatment centers and are asking for novisitors to join you just to maintain their safety, your safety, the safety ofother patients, and the safety of the staff.
Ultimately hospitals andcancer programs are agile, they can be flexible and they really can create veryquickly new protocols to ensure your safety comes first.
There is no doubtthat every team is focused on what they can do to ensure that you are protected during what most people are calling the healthcare challenge of ourgeneration.
This is an unprecedented virus and it's importantfor us to prepare and care for ourselves.
And there's many many reactions whenfacing a trauma like this and especially after dealing with the realtrauma of a diagnosis of ovarian or a gynecologic cancer.
And there are manynormal reactions that can feel really out of control.
You know, a normalreaction can be fear, a sense of hyper alertness, feeling isolated especiallywhen we're asking for you to self isolates at home and to self quarantine, not self isolate, and feelings of being overwhelmed, you know, there's some realsense of anger and frustration and trauma, and these unprecedentedtimes can also manifest in physical and emotional symptoms.
So these areuncertain times and it's important to be awareof your feelings, create a safety plan for yourself, take care of yourself, andtake care of your loved ones.
So again communication with your team and pleaseknow that you're not alone.
Some concrete ideas to help and that can be helpfulare maintaining a sense of routine.
Or creating a new routine so that each day feels familiar and that you have a plan.
I would highly recommend limiting your exposure to news, to your screen time, tophone.
Obviously you want critical informationbut this is very overwhelming, hearing many of these very difficultmessages repeatedly throughout the day so spend time taking a walk sittingoutside, just breathing the air.
Obviously we're talking about being outside andpracticing social distancing which involves being six feet away or morefrom others, coming in and washing your hands, but you know, exercise withoutoverdoing it can be incredibly helpful.
Breathing can be incrediblysupportive.
It's springtime and springtime can enhance feeling ofhopeful renewal so this is a great time to get out there and weed your yard andyou know get focused on doing something that can feel productive.
And meditation, relaxation, taking calming breaths, there's a great app, it's calledthe Calm app, that you may find helpful and OCRA is publishing some resourcesthat you will find that also could be very helpful in terms of meditation andconnectedness.
One of the things I'm doing is teaching my dog a new trickeach week.
It's giving me a sense of an activity and something I feel like I canaccomplish and feel good about.
I think it's so important to take care ofyourself and to be kind to yourself.
Have patience, maintain a sense ofhumor, find avenues of fun.
One of our Woman to Woman mentors suggestedwatching old movies or the Hallmark Channel or reading a book that alwayshas a happy ending.
These are all really constructive ideas that can put apositive face and help you feel a little bit better.
So finding avenues of fun and you know ensuring that you remain hope filled andflexible.
There's a true value in support and connectedness, but ifyou have a sense that what I'm describing, you have more of a senseof a persistent feeling of distress or hopelessness, it may be time for you toseek professional help.
Speak to your team, seek out mentalhealth.
Again, in the resources that OCRA is going to provide you will find somegood communities and contacts for mental health care even if it's remote mentalhealth care, just please take care of yourselves.
And know that OCRA is alwaysgoing to be here.
We are really committed to ensuring that we have a community, that we provide information and support, and that this community which continuesto grow is available for you and for others.
So please be aware of our patientsupport line.
You'll hear from me directly on that and the number is 212-268-1002.
I canhelp you navigate resources or just talk through what you're going through, link you to mental health providers locally or connect you to some of ourother programs.
We have an online community – it's robust, it's encouraging andit's really a wonderful group of people.
It's through Inspire, so you join, ifyou haven't joined already, it's www.
You'llset up a profile and join the ovarian cancer community.
You can post or youcan read and you can really connect with many many people all times of dayand night and it's a lovely lovely community, I highly recommend it.
Peopleshare ideas and support, it's really a fantastic group.
And we also have atremendous Woman to Woman network.
It is a group of dedicated trained peermentors across the country who can offer support and guidance and connectednessin a way that no one else can.
They've been there, they get it and they arereally available for you, and I have to say it's the most wonderful group ofpeople who really want to be available to you, so please consider asking for aWoman to Woman mentor and getting connected.
Again the easiest way to beconnected to a mentor is to call me directly – 212-268-1002.
We're gonnakeep trying to do this and bring these messages along and if you have any otherideas of how to stay connected please reach out, we want to hear from you.
Wewant you to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
You're not alone and theOCRA community is strong.
We're resilient and we are here for you soplease stay safe and stay in touch.