Since we first learned of the rapid global spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) the situation continues to evolve at a dizzying pace. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada has been closely monitoring the fast-changing situation and we understand this is causing confusion and anxiety among the blood cancer community.
We all are finding ourselves having to adapt quickly to the new normal. Even here at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada to protect our staff, people affected by a blood cancer and other constituents across the country, we have made the difficult decision to reschedule or cancel in-person events. But please know that LLSC remains open for business, although our offices are closed, our staff are working from home. You should continue to contact our Community Engagement Managers at 1-833-222-4884 or by email.
Community Engagement Manager
Prairies & Northwest Territories
|(403) 263-5300 ext 5163|
|Quebec||(514) 875-1000 ext 1009|
|Atlantic Canada||(902) 422-5999 ext 7580|
These times bring special challenges to Canadians affected by a blood cancer so we’d like to address some of your questions:
I am hearing the term self-quarantine. What does this actually mean?
To self-quarantine means to isolate yourself from other people because you may have been exposed and potentially infectious to others. Stay inside your home, and do not enter any common areas where you risk exposing other people. Be certain your doctor is aware of your exposure and your need to self-quarantine. To protect family members, you should avoid physical contact, wear a mask, and clean all surfaces you come in contact with. The virus is spread by droplets, (saliva, nasal secretions, sneezing) and can remain on hands and surfaces leading to exposure of others. If you’re self-quarantined in a building with common spaces, stay away from as many people as possible. Your doctor will advise you of the length of time you should self-quarantine.
I have an active blood cancer or I am a survivor with a compromised immune system. What are my risks? Should I self-quarantine?
While you are not at greater risk of catching COVID-19, you might be at a greater risk of getting sicker if you are exposed. You should be particularly vigilant about precautions such as hand washing and avoiding crowds, and touching surfaces others touch.
Unless you’ve been exposed, you don’t need to self-quarantine but you should increase social isolation. Consider minimizing your travel, and try to work remotely if possible. Even after completing treatment, you may not have a fully functional immune system, so social isolation and protection from exposure are particularly important.
Should I get tested for the coronavirus if I have been exposed to someone who has been diagnosed or are experiencing symptoms?
You should contact your doctor to discuss the need for testing.
I’m worried that my therapies might come from overseas and that there might be disruptions in manufacturing and delivery. Should I be worried about drug shortages?
Drug shortages are not presently a concern for blood cancer but this could change. We continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates if we learn of any.
If I am self-quarantined how can I get my medication?
If possible, try to prepare in advance by getting additional medications from your pharmacy. See if your doctor will be willing to call your pharmacy to get a bigger supply in advance. If you are already quarantined, contact your pharmacy to see if they offer home delivery to bring the medicines, and drop them off outside the door. Another option is mail order pharmacies. You might also ask a family member or friend to pick up your medicines and drop them in a safe place. Do not have direct contact with the delivery person or friend.
If I am self-quarantined, what should I do if I have a medical appointment?
Contact your physician. Unless it is a life threatening condition you might have to postpone your appointment. If you are on treatment and are infected you should discuss with your doctor if treatment can or should be delayed.
If I am self-quarantined, how can I get my groceries?
Many grocery stores offer delivery options. You might also be able to ask friends or family to go to the store for you. Just make sure you are not answering the door. You should have them leave the groceries in an agreed upon location so you don’t have direct contact with the delivery people or your friends or family. You can also consider using online vendors who deliver groceries.
What are some strategies for ensuring good hygiene in my home, particularly as it becomes increasingly difficult to find bleach, disinfectant wipes, etc.?
Thorough hand washing with soap and water is the most critical. You can also clean your house with bleach or alcohol. As cleaning supplies become more limited use common sense in terms of how frequently you need to use them.
As many stores are running out of these cleaning products, consider calling your local pharmacies and grocery stores to let them know you have special needs because you are immunocompromised and ask them to alert you as soon as new supplies coming in.
As a caregiver, what if I get/or got exposed to COVID-19? What should I do?
You should immediately begin to self-quarantine and you should contact both your own healthcare provider as well as your loved one’s doctor to let them know you’ve been exposed. If you are able to call in assistance from other family members or friends to help care for your loved one, consider doing so, as long as you do not expose them to potential infection.
What can I do if I am in self-quarantine and feel alone?
If you are self-quarantined, you can use FaceTime and other social media platforms to stay connected with your loved ones. LLSC offers a telephone based Peer support program. You can speak with your Community Engagement Manager at 1-833-222-4884 or by email.
Should I travel at all if I have an active blood cancer? (domestic or international)?
It’s important to talk to your doctor and understand your risks, which can vary depending on if you have other physical symptoms. Please note that the Government of Canada advises against all non-essential travel outside of Canada.
Is it safe for me to go to work?
You should discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. Discuss with your employer if work from home is an option. Some business are more limited than others in offering this capability so you should discuss the options with your employer. If your job requires you to be in an office or have contact with others, you should use social isolation precautions at work including frequent hand washing (soap and warm water scrubbing until you have recited the entire alphabet) and avoiding shaking hands, and other physical contact even if people ”appear” well.