Coping With Isolation Due to Corona or Cancer Issues

by Jane Ashley

As cancer patients and survivors, we’ve been told to “shelter-in-place” and “self-isolate.” Before the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer patients were advised not to isolate themselves. We are told that we needed to maintain our connections with friends and family. We were reminded that we need our “social network’s” support to help us through the emotional and physical challenges that cancer brings.


Isolation can lead to depression and anxiety. We may begin to have self-doubt and not take care of ourselves, both physically and mentally. We can get into a funk — a state depression, sadness, and worry.

How can technology help with the reality of “self-isolating” during the pandemic?

First of all, we have to tell ourselves that this won’t last forever. The last worldwide pandemic occurred in 1918, just over 100 years ago. No one could have predicted this; we’re all in this together. Most importantly, we still have control over our lives.

Even as individual states begin to take baby steps towards allowing elective surgeries and opening up more retail and small businesses, those of us who are at greater risk can continue to self-isolate to keep ourselves safe. The knowledge that we are part of the decision-making process, and that we are erring on the side of caution should help us cope with isolation.

So with the knowledge that we do still retain power over our lives, let’s look at some things that we can do pro-actively to cope better. It’s easier to be social and interact with your friends and family than we thought.

Zoom. Zoom is a cloud-based conferencing service, either by just audio or with video too. Families can set up family chats, at no cost, so that the entire family can get together and “visit” with each other. You and your family could have a regular chat time every week. Zoom is user-friendly and easy to use.

Facetime. Facetime allows people with iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers to connect with video calls. It’s easy to use. Think of Facetime as a substitute for meeting a friend for coffee. If both of you have iPhones, then you can get together for a video chat. Facetime is also a great way to keep in touch with family members who are in active cancer treatment — you can encourage them and find out what they need.

Video Conference

GoToMeeting. GoToMeeting is a web-based conferencing that allows people to network in real-time. Whether it’s family or friends or a volunteer group, GoToMeeting allows people to talk and exchange ideas in real-time. It’s a great way for church or soup kitchen volunteers to meet without meeting in person. It’s a low-cost way to network and gets plans made without meeting in person.

Skype. Skype is a one-on-one way to video chat. Skype allows video chats between computers, tablets, and mobile devices . Simply download the app for free. It’s easier than you think, and you be chatting with a friend or loved one just like you’re in the same room.


What are “low-tech” methods to prevent us from isolating ourselves?

Not all of us are comfortable with new technology, but that doesn’t mean that we should allow ourselves to slip into depression or anxiety. Low-tech still offers us very effective ways to communicate. What we might be lacking is motivation — it’s just so easy to sit and watch TV. However, hours and hours of watching TV isn’t good for us. Watching 24-hour news can be especially harmful to us as it promotes anxiety.
All of us … no matter who we are … we need to stay socially engaged with friends and family.

Phone. Pick up your phone and scroll through your contacts. Call some longtime friends or past co-workers and ask how they are doing. Call a chemo cancer buddy. Call that first cousin who lives out-of-town that you only see at family reunions. Keep in touch and encourage others who are walking the same lonesome trail that we are walking.

Send A Note

Email. Don’t feel like talking? Look through your contact list and email those old friends that you haven’t heard from in the last year. Ask how they’re doing. Share what’s new with you. Share a favorite photo. Email your exercise buddies and help each other stay active.
Notes and cards. There’s something special about seeing a hand-addressed piece of mail in your mailbox. You know that it’s not advertising or a bill — it’s from a friend or family member. You know how good it feels to get mail, so why not grab a pen and paper and write some notes to old friends who live out-of-town? You can order stamps online that can be delivered to your mailbox, so there’s no excuse not to keep in touch with your good friends. With no church services right now, there are probably some people who live alone that would appreciate a card from you.

So WhatNext?

None of us can predict how long it will take for things to “get back to normal.” So, in the meantime, we need to be pro-active for ourselves and others. Reach out and let people know that you care. Your actions will help you and will help others too. And don’t forget. Stay active on

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