Breast Cancer and the Coronavirus: Patricia F.

Coping Through Crisis: Breast Cancer and the Coronavirus

Patricia F.

Photos by Rathkopf Photography

Patricia F. was just 26 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and started undergoing treatment.

She left a prolific career where she’d spent years as a self-described workaholic.

“Transitioning was not easy, but the fearlessness I had after braving cancer made it possible.”

That was the beginning of Patricia pursuing a passion for health and beauty that turned into a new career.

Patricia lives alone in an apartment in Philadelphia, a new hotspot for the coronavirus outbreak. As cases of COVID-19 spread, Patricia started practicing social distancing.

Going for walks in nature and visiting her favorite coffee shop and bookstore was a critical part of Patricia’s routine to maintain her mental health.

“Breast cancer recovery was really about my mind. If I got too depressed, I knew I could make myself sicker.”

Now, she struggles with feelings of isolation while sheltering at home.

Isolation is a familiar experience for young breast cancer survivors. The global pandemic, for many of them, is bringing back a torrent of feelings from early diagnosis and treatment.

“I’ve experienced emotional triggers from this pandemic being a cancer survivor because it just reminds me of my mortality, which breast cancer also did. And sometimes I can get really in my head about that.”

On top of the fear and anxiety around contracting the virus, breast cancer survivors are grappling with postponements in treatments and surgeries, mixed messaging on essential care and whether or not they’re immunocompromised when they’ve finished treatment like Patricia.

“I’m constantly worried, you know. Did I touch something? Did someone touch me? Did someone breathe in my direction?”

Much like disparities in breast cancer, Patricia sees the toll COVID-19 is taking on the African-American community.

“When I look at the numbers of African Americans disproportionately affected by COVID-19, I see the disadvantages they face. It’s uncomfortable to talk about, but it is racism that affects their ability to access affordable healthcare and health insurance.”

As the pandemic unfolds, Patricia relies on the skills that got her through treatment.

“I am just doing everything I can to make sure from moments of scanxiety when my doctor finds something unusual to worries about the coronavirus, I still keep myself as grounded as I possibly can.”

YSC and Rathkopf Photography have partnered for Mental Health Awareness Month to draw attention to the fear, anxiety, and isolation that COVID-19 triggers in young adults affected by breast cancer. Media often focuses on those in active treatment, but the consequences of cancer can last years after diagnosis. As the world grapples with its ‘new normal,’ these 5 survivors and thrivers navigate an already permanently altered life after cancer now compounded by COVID-19. Follow their stories all May.

Make a Donation

YSC relies on donations to carry out its mission, and these have almost completely stopped due to the coronavirus and economic shutdown. We’re asking that everyone who loves YSC donate $25 so that we can continue to support young adults like Patricia F.

Donate to YSC

Read more from Our Series
Coping Through Crisis: Breast Cancer and the Coronavirus

Simple Share Buttons