Sunday, April 12, 2020

Trying to Find Perspective

I’ve struggled a little bit with how to try to put some of this into perspective. It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? To think of an actual GLOBAL PANDEMIC? One where thousands have already lost their lives in just a few short months, and where we are doing things we’d never imagined to try to keep the US lives lost to under a quarter of a million people in the next few months?

If you know me at all, you know I’m an advocate for pediatric cancer research. The idea that an entire classroom and then some of kids faced a diagnosis of cancer each day always was stunning to me. 43 children each day are diagnosed with some form of cancer. 12% of them, or 5-6 kids each day, do not survive. 60% have long term, lasting effects – infertility, hearing loss, heart failure, secondary cancers. That’s about 26 of those kids.

Our first confirmed US case of Covid-19 was January 21st, in Washington State. As I write this, we have statistics, as shaky as they may be, through April 7th. The US showed 400,335 cases.

10 days in January.

29 days in February.

31 days in March.

7 days in April.

That’s 77 days. 

That’s 3,311 pediatric cancer cases, which so many of us find abhorrent.

It is four hundred thousand cases of Covid-19.

Deaths in the US through April 7th? 12,841. That is nearly four times the pediatric cancer diagnosis numbers.

Understand that this is in no way a competition, I’m not stepping away from the pediatric cancer fight. What I’m trying to do is help us collectively understand that we have a responsibility to our friends, our neighbors, our loved ones. If we knew that taking some time and limiting our activities would protect our kids from cancer, we’d do it. Shoot, for kids who did stem cell transplants, THEY DID THIS! With a stem cell transplant, they destroy the immune system completely, and rebuild it. As part of that protocol, there is a period of around 100 days of isolation. Social distancing on steroids.

We have the ability to do that for each other right now. We have the ability to protect someone we know, someone we love, from an illness that could kill them. Could put them in the ICU, intubated, sedated and alone.

Those same kids, the ones who fought the cancer and survived that? They are higher risk. Your parents or grandparents are higher risk. My husband is higher risk. More likely to be that one who is intubated, sedated, alone in an ICU. 

Yes, I know people are beating this thing. That’s AMAZING, and I’m so thankful for that. But this isn’t the flu, (In the last five years, Indiana has averaged 154 flu deaths each year, with flu season generally about 7 months long. In only a month, 173 Hoosiers have died from COVID-19, with many more expected.) It’s not a cold. You might be young and healthy and not high-risk, but you can be a carrier, and unwittingly pass it along to someone who is higher risk.

Is it worth it?

I guess, if it is, if you want to still behave as if all of this is normal, and that the scientists and the media are blowing it out of proportion, and that we’re just stirring up mass hysteria, I can’t fix that. We can call it a difference of opinion, but I hope your opinion doesn’t kill someone.

"You won't ever know if what you did personally helped. That's the nature of public health. 
When the best way to save lives is to prevent a disease rather than treat it, 
success often looks like an overreaction."

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