Omicron and Coping with its Uncertainty for People Living with Cancer

Just when there seemed to be a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, enter the Omicron variant, sending us all on another emotional roller coaster, especially for people impacted by cancer.

It’s a fact. There is indeed a higher risk of serious illness from COVID for people living with cancer. The most challenging part is the uncertainty and worry created from all the conflicting information. It can be particularly difficult to cope with not knowing to what extent and for how long you need to “shield” yourself. And it’s stressful to always be on the lookout, wondering whether other new variants will emerge.

Uncertainty and the inability to see family and friends can cause anxiety, depression, and a feeling of being out of control. Here are 4 ways to handle this uncertainty and cope with the new risks caused by Omicron:

  1. Acknowledge all of the risks, challenges, and uncertainties. Arm yourself with verified facts and statistics in order to put all of this information into perspective. avoid focusing on the most negative and scary cases.
  2. Be aware of the “what ifs.” Recognize that these thoughts can be harmful try to ground yourself in the present.
  3. Make plans that minimize risk. Make sure that the people you see have been vaccinated and wear a mask; meet people outdoors; if you need to be indoors, keep the doors and windows open; don’t share cutlery or hand towels, etc. Being proactive and in control can reduce worry.
  4. Help friends and family understand the risks to your health – and try not to feel guilty about saying “no” to attending large gatherings or parties.
  5. Find out what support is available to you. Isolation can increase your fears and anxiety. Know that your feelings are normal and that there are many other people in your situation who are experiencing similar feelings. Even though we can’t eliminate the risks, sharing your feelings and thoughts with someone who understands can help.

We are here for you to help you work through your thoughts and feelings and can connect you with others who share what you are feeling. Gilda’s Club Westchester offers weekly support groups as well as short term counseling. To find the support that is right for you, please visit the calendar on our website or call us at (914)-644-8844 and a staff member would be pleased to help you.