COVID-19 impacting cancer patients, volunteer services

Posted at 9:33 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 22:48:17-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - The coronavirus pandemic has led many to make adjustments to their daily lives, including people undergoing cancer treatment.

For Sr. Mary Lehman, she has one motto.

"With my trust in God, I have no fear," Lehman said.

Lehman has battled cancer for about two years. She's adjusting to life at home in Chesapeake during the pandemic after completing chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

"Lysol, Lysol, Lysol," Lehman said. "The only thing that bothers me is that I can't go to church."

She said the coronavirus has also impacted her appointments.

"We just do telephone conference," she said. "Hopefully, the doctor's hoping that I can go on the 22nd to get the CT scan, so I'm not sure yet."

During treatment, she relied on the American Cancer Society's Road to Recovery program, consisting of volunteer drivers taking patients to appointments.

"I had to go every day, five days a week for 20-something treatments, almost 30 treatments," Lehman said. "They took me every single day."

But ACS officials told News 3 that program is suspended due to the virus.

"The patients, who have compromised immune systems - we don't want to put them at any risk at all," local volunteer driver and coordinator Brian Maddox said.

ACS officials added that, right now, they're focused on recruiting more drivers for Road to Recovery, making sure they're ready once the program is back up and running.

"We're expecting that, when we get back up into service, the influx of patients will be even greater," Maddox said.

ACS officials said they have alternative resources for patients at this time.

COVID-19 and cancer resources infographic

"Cancer hasn't stopped, and neither have we," Domenick Casuccio with the American Cancer Society said. "We have a 24/7 hotline where you can speak to a cancer information specialist. In the past few weeks, over 80% of our calls have been COVID-19-related."

For Lehman, she'll continue staying strong and positive.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel. There always is," she said. "Nothing lasts forever, and I'm sure this pandemic will go away soon."

For more information on the ACS Road to Recovery program, click here.

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