For veterans diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, one of the keys to improving quality of life and extending survival is receiving continuous medical care. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, many were concerned that they would be unable to get the chemotherapy or other services upon which they relied. But according to a blog that appeared on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, those who served our country during previous crises were able to continue getting their cancer treatments safely and in-person, with little-to-no interruption.
The article did not spotlight malignant mesothelioma patients, but the treatment provided at the Lebanon VAMC in Pennsylvania is the same that was provided (and continues to be provided) throughout the country. Recognizing that skipping or delaying treatments could have devastating effects, the infusion clinics that administer chemotherapy did not cancel appointments or cut down on the number of treatments provided, and the same was true of other life-extending services.
Speaking of the services provided, Chris Pond, nurse manager for cancer care at Lebanon VAMC said, “Administering chemotherapy is a highly specialized field. It requires additional training and certification for nurses. The doctors work with the patients to develop a plan, then the patients come to the infusion clinic to receive their treatments from the nurses. Here at the Lebanon VAMC, we administered chemotherapy throughout this time.”
The availability of high quality, specialized care was particularly important to veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma, as the coronavirus posed an elevated threat to them. The virus was significantly more deadly for those over the age of 65, and with the additional burden of a deadly cancer that has already weakened them physically, both catching the virus and skipping their treatments represented a very real concern. “These Veterans are among the most at-risk patients we have. When you are going through chemotherapy, it depresses your immune system. That makes the patient more vulnerable to illnesses.” In response the staff took extra steps to make sure that people were safe. “We took extreme cautionary measures, calling patients personally and escorting them from the front entrance to the clinic to ensure they weren’t needlessly exposed to anything.”
If you or someone you love is a veteran with mesothelioma and you need information on the care or benefits available to you, contact us today at 1-800-726-7245.