The federal government has encouraged health centers to delay nonessential surgeries while weighing the severity of patients’ conditions and the availability of personal protective equipment, beds and staffing at hospitals.
People with cancer are among those at high risk of complications if infected with the new coronavirus. It’s estimated 1.8 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. this year. More than 600,000 people are receiving chemotherapy.
That means millions of Americans may be navigating unforeseen challenges to getting care.
Christine Rayburn in Olympia, Washington, was diagnosed with breast cancer in mid-February. The new coronavirus was in the news, but the 48-year-old did not imagine the outbreak would affect her. Her doctor said Rayburn needed to start treatment immediately. The cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes.
“The cancer tumor seemed to have attached itself to a nerve,” said Rayburn, who was a schoolteacher for many years.