16 ways to support a friend or family member with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic

Want to help a friend or loved one facing cancer during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but not sure how? “Cancer patients are uniquely vulnerable to the coronavirus, so it’s critical to practice social distancing to help protect them from COVID-19,” says Roy Chemaly, M.D., our infectious diseases and infection control specialist. At the same time, it’s important to understand that for many cancer patients, social distancing and anxiety over COVID-19 may be compounding feelings of loneliness and social isolation. “Cancer patients have been hit with a double whammy,” says Dave Balachandran, M.D. “They’re anxious and missing the lives they had before cancer, and COVID-19 turned everything upside down.” So, what can you do to show support from a distance during the coronavirus pandemic? Here’s what cancer patients and caregivers in our Facebook community suggest. 1. Practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands frequently and properly, washing every part of your hands and nails with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Be sure to follow proper hand-washing before delivering any food or packages. 2. Help with the grocery shopping and other necessities. Do the shopping and deliver the groceries, leaving them outside to avoid contact. Or, place an order online and have them delivered or ready for curbside pickup. 3. Schedule video chat or phone “dates.” By putting it on the schedule, you’ll give both of you something to look forward to. 4. Donate blood or platelets to MD Anderson Blood Bank. Your blood donation will help ensure an adequate blood supply for cancer patients during this critical time. Each blood donation can help up to three...