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VCU Massey supports cancer patients as they adjust to life during global pandemic

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Posted at 12:03 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 17:46:23-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Living with cancer can be difficult enough. Living with cancer during COVD-19 can add to that overwhelming feeling.

That’s why FaceTime moments with her two daughters and grandchildren is the best medicine for Rhonda Anderson.

Rhonda cherishes FaceTime with her daughter in North Carolina and weekly visits from her other daughter in Richmond.

"She discovered actually the lump that was in my breast," Rhonda said.

In November, Rhonda's doctor broke the devastating news that Rhonda has breast cancer.

Since COVID-19, Rhonda has stayed put inside her Henrico home. She's only leaving for treatments.

She has chemo every week at VCU Massey Cancer Center. Since the Coronavirus, some things have changed.

"I love they have taken the extra measures. Take your temperature when you walk in the door. I can't take anyone with me during treatments, so it's a little different but I'm adjusting," Rhonda said.

Adjusting to life with cancer during a global pandemic can be challenging and take its toll mentally.

Freda Wilkins, a social worker a Massey, leads cancer survivors down a road of relaxation and mindfulness during a virtual support group over Zoom.

"They want the security. They want the sense of community," Wilkins said.

Wilkins stays connected with patients on a weekly basis to keep them informed and calm. In these zoom support sessions it's about self-care.

"So, you begin to recognize the difference between calm Freda and stressed Freda," Wilkins said.

And also recognizing the power of words.

"Say this is hard. I'm scared. I don't like this," Wilkins said.

Wilkins says most importantly, survivors have to focus on affirmations and thinking about something other than their cancer.

"You have to give your mind something else. So, maybe your mind thinks about, I want to see my grand baby on zoom," Wilkins said.

Here are a list of resources available to help cancer patients---especially during this global pandemic.