I might lose a lot of followers for this post—and frankly, I’m a little scared. I posted something similar on my fan page and immediately lost two followers. But I just wanted to offer some perspective—from a cancer patient—even though I have MANY friends and family members who disagree with me on this topic. But the problem is, they don’t truly understand where I’m coming from.
(Please read on. I’m using an analogy, and this might not be what you expect!)
Everyone has heard this: If you use a condom, you have a lower chance of getting an STD from someone you sleep with. This isn’t 100% guaranteed, but it’s better than not using a condom at all. Having unprotected sex (with STD rates being what they currently are) is like begging the universe, “Hey, hey, just try giving me an STD!” The problem remains that you might be hyper-vigilant—you could use protection every time and then falter once. And then you end up being exposed to everyone and every STD the other person has slept with.
Let’s back up:
I’m in my 30s, and I have the world’s worst immune system right now. Okay, that might be a bit dramatic, but who doesn’t love the theater?
Someone sneezes a mile away from me, and I practically catch their cold. Someone could cough in another state and although I don’t hear them, my immune system does. And if (seriously) I get a vaccine, it does not take. Maybe that’s because my body is literally trying to destroy itself. Maybe that’s because my cells are dividing and eating each other in unhealthy ways. Maybe that’s because I still have cancerous tumors that want to kill me. Nothing like getting eaten from the inside out. (Don’t try this at home.)
So, if someone comes around me and is sick, chances are, I’ll get sick too. But not only me, all of my friends who I unwittingly carry the virus to before I have symptoms. Some of these people won’t be as lucky as I’ve been; they’ll simply die.
I’ve tried to explain this to people, most recently a friend who came up to see me from Utah. She—like so many of my family members and friends—refuse to get the COVID vaccination. “It’s like a condom,” I said. “You’re upping your chances of getting sick. Then you came to see me. Now you’re upping my chances of getting sick.” Sure, I had COVID in January and this was four months after my most recent experience with it, but doctors said I could get this over and over—despite monoclonal antibodies.
“It’s a hoax,” my friend said.
“Well, the only people who got it in my group in January were people who hadn’t been vaccinated. My mom got it pretty bad, too—I was so worried.” I’d honestly been really scared for my mom. She didn’t sound well for over two weeks, and it was a bit terrifying. She’s one of the sweetest people on earth—and, man, can she play the drums. Plus, she’s tough, and she never gets sick. But that COVID thing really shook me.
My friend went on to say that she’d been recently exposed, and she still came up to see me. My mouth nearly fell to the floor. I. Am. A. Cancer. Patient. With her being exposed, that’s the equivalent of not wearing a condom. She upped her chances of getting it significantly, and then came straight to me. “Flames. Flames. On the side of my face. Burning. Itching.”
I’ve known exactly two people who have died after having cancer then getting COVID. I haven’t seen this on the news, or heard some third-hand story. I have known them personally. They were lovely people who had their lives cut even shorter than necessary.
It’s devastating thinking how long these people fought cancer only to have their fight cut short by an exposure to COVID. For example, my first diagnosis came in 2018. I’ve been fighting HARD since 2020. I’m finally seeing hope. To die from COVID, like my friends did at this same point, would be nothing short of tragic.
Yes, I have COVID now. Yes, I just went through two huge airports without a mask (and that’s probably how I caught this). Yes, I feel like a carefree idiot. But…maybe some good can come out of this. I want people to realize how serious this is for those with comorbidities, poor immune systems, and—well—for people like me. If you’re reading this, it isn’t a plea coming from some stranger or from some governmental agency. It’s coming from me; someone you actually know who could be in real, scary danger if I get this even one more time. And yet, I could contract it over and over because vaccines don’t often work for cancer patients. I’m trusting every person I come into contact with. Their chances of contracting the virus up my chances even more.
I decided to write this because on Sunday night I struggled to breathe. I ended up getting a scary-high fever and seeing a doctor. I don’t know where I got this—probably from being an idiot at the airport—and my bout with COVID it is not over. Hopefully, it’s just a reminder of how serious this can be. Sunday was just as terrifying as liver failure and sepsis (one of which I almost died from). I guess that makes sense, because breathing is pretty great.
If you won’t wear a condom/AKA get vaccinated for a stranger, do it for people like me—or at least think about it.
I’m not asking you to change your mind about any of this, I’m just asking for you to think about this from my perspective.
Thanks for your time,
An Outspoken Cancer Patient Who Loves to Breathe
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