Preparing for Battle During a Pandemic
Written by Jenny Williams (aka ‘Jenguin’) – Head for the Cure Ambassador
As someone in her 12th year living with brain cancer, I’m a veteran when it comes to MRIs. I’m used to the loud noises that sound like a techno song gone wrong. And over the last few years, I’ve become accustomed to hearing the words “boring” and “stable” from my doctor’s mouth when reviewing the pictures afterwards.
This time was different. With a global pandemic and a shelter-in-place order in effect, the normally-bustling hospital was a ghost town when I went in for my MRI. All entrances were closed off apart from one, where my boyfriend and I were directed to temporary stations set up to check our temperatures and ask why we were there. It was reminiscent of going through international customs at the airport.
We immediately went home after the scan and met with my doctor over a video call. It was a strange experience for all of us. The distance between us became even more apparent when my doctor shared the results. She usually gives me a hug during our visits, a hug that was deeply missed this time when she told me I needed to start again on chemotherapy to keep ahead of this growing brain tumor.
No time is a good time for any cancer treatment, but with a global pandemic going on, I was nervous at the idea, to say the least. I had done this treatment before, but obviously not during a time like this. So we waited. Waited to see if the situation would get any better in the country. But with no clear end, cure or vaccine for COVID-19 in sight, we were faced with a dilemma. Should I weaken my already slightly-compromised immune system during a pandemic, or allow my tumor to progress? My neuro-oncologist and medical oncologist both agreed that this could not wait.
I went back to the medical war front to get a fresh MRI, this time armed with a cute bumble bee mask to hopefully cheer up some of the overworked hospital staff and give me some confidence. The scan confirmed that we made the right decision—my fight with this tumor cannot wait for a pandemic to clear.
I am prepared to fight, as I have been doing for many years. I go into battle and COVID-19 cannot stop me.