Cancer COVID-19 (coronavirus)

I have cancer. How should I navigate the holidays during the pandemic?

Senior woman waving during a video call on smartphone

 Q: I have cancer. The holiday season during the pandemic is causing me increased stress. My friends and family want to see me. And I would like to see them too. But I’m worried about the COVID-19 risk. What should I do?

A: In many parts of Ontario and Canada, the risk of catching COVID-19 is high. It is spreading widely in the community. In fact, the risk of catching COVID-19 is actually higher than it was in the spring, says Sunnybrook’s Infection Prevention and Control team.

Cancer and its treatments weaken your immune system, making it harder to fight off viruses and making you more vulnerable to COVID-19. Researchers are still studying the exact effects of COVID-19 on people who have cancer, but it is clear that COVID-19 can be more serious in people who have other health conditions.

This holiday season please do everything you can to protect yourself:

  • Celebrate December holidays with people you live with ONLY
  • Limit all contact with people who don’t live with you
  • Go out for essential trips only (like medical appointments or treatments)
  • Do what you routinely do to protect yourself: wash your hands, keep them away from your face, stay away from people who are unwell.
  • Wear a mask any time you are outside of your home and stay 6 feet / 2 metres away from others.

Any contact you have with people outside your household, even with friends and family, puts you at high risk for COVID-19. This could be devastating to you and your family.

Well-meaning friends and family may seek to spend time with you this holiday season and that presents a challenge. Please have a conversation with them about how you are limiting all contact outside your household in order to protect yourself, and how important it is that they too follow public health advice to help curb the transmission of COVID-19 in the community.

Preparing for the holidays in the age of COVID-19

If you do see friends and family outdoors or for porch drop-offs or pick-ups, it is important that you wear a mask and continue to keep a distance of 6 feet / 2 metres from each other.

Everyone’s circumstance is, of course, unique; please reach out to your healthcare provider if you have questions.

This year has been a tough one, and the holiday season will continue to challenge us. Let’s do everything we can to stay safe.

About the author

Alexis Dobranowski

Alexis Dobranowski is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.