COVID-19 and Cancer

COVID-19 and Cancer

Does Cancer put me at higher risk for COVID-19?

If you have cancer currently, your body is probably more susceptible to COVID-19 infection and more likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19 if you get it. This appears to be true whether you’re currently receiving cancer treatment or not. Having a previous history of cancer that’s either in remission or cured doesn’t appear to carry the same risk.

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

If you have cancer currently, your body is probably more susceptible to COVID-19 infection and more likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19 if you get it. This appears to be true whether you’re currently receiving cancer treatment or not. Having a previous history of cancer that’s either in remission or cured doesn’t appear to carry the same risk.v

Are masks helpful?

Masks reduce (but do not completely eliminate) the number of droplets expelled by people when they breathe or speak. They also appear to reduce (but not completely eliminate) the number of droplets you inhale from others. The type of mask, how tightly it fits, and its condition affects how well (or poorly) it does all these things. Single-layer cloth masks provide the least protection, and professionally-fitted N95 masks provide the most protection.

Should I be wearing a mask?

If you live in an area with a high rate of active COVID infection, wearing a mask while indoors with other people is recommended whether you’re vaccinated or not. But if you’re vaccinated and the area you live in has a low rate of active COVID infections, then wearing a mask while indoors with others probably isn’t necessary.

Should I take the vaccine?

Yes.

Should I still get the vaccine even if I’ve had COVID-19 before?

Yes.

Is the vaccine dangerous?

There appear to be very few short-term risks. Though longer-term risks won’t be clear for some time, nothing in how the vaccine is made (or what it’s made from) is thought to pose significant long-term dangers to humans.

Should I prefer one vaccine manufacturer over another?

At present, all the provisionally-approved vaccines are reasonably effective and reasonably safe against COVID-19. There are some slight differences among them in the exact degree of protection and also in the potential side effect profile, but the differences seem very small. It’s unclear at this time if there are differences in the long-term protection provided by the different vaccines.

Can the vaccine make me sick?

Most people experience a few days of inflammatory symptoms (e.g. fatigue, fever, soreness) after any vaccine of any kind, and the COVID-19 vaccine is no exception. Though serious illness and death from the COVID-19 vaccine do occur (as they do with all vaccines), these severe bad effects are extremely rare.

Can I still get COVID-19 if I get the vaccine?

Yes, but the risk you’ll get it (or get seriously ill from it) will be much lower if you’re vaccinated.

Will the vaccine still work if I have cancer or am getting chemotherapy or radiation therapy?

If you’re on any medications that suppress your immune system (such as steroids, immune suppressants, and many cancer chemotherapies) then the vaccine may be less effective–but it still appears to offer significant protection, as post-vaccination infection rates in at-risk individuals are low, and vaccinated individuals who do get COVID anyway seem to have a much lower rate of severe illness resulting from the infection.

Should I be concerned about the Delta (and other) variants?

Every living thing is constantly growing and adapting and viruses are no exception. We have to remember that new variants (or entirely new viruses) might rewrite the rules at any time–just like COVID-19 did in 2020. So yes, new variants are a concern and could change the rules for what’s safe (and what isn’t). It isn’t yet clear how effective the current vaccines are against the DELTA variant, or whether previous COVID infection offers any protection from it.

Why do the recommendations keep changing? Why can’t the experts get it right?

There was a time in history when “the facts” were that the earth was the center of the galaxy. But as we learned more, we had to admit our initial impression was wrong and that the earth in fact orbits the sun. An honest expert who weighs new data as it comes in will very often have to admit that things aren’t as we initially thought. With COVID-19 for instance, airborne transmission wasn’t initially thought to be important so masks weren’t recommended – but a lot of unhelpful things like scrubbing public surfaces regularly were. We’ve learned more since then, and have had to change our thinking. Having to change our minds is often a sign that science is doing its job well, and providing new knowledge at a fast rate.

Should I be afraid?

Though we think it’s unwise to live without sensible precautions and without regard for a global pandemic that’s taken millions of lives, we also think it’s unwise to live paralyzed by fear. Humans should never expect permanent health or freedom from all illness, but we shouldn’t lose sight of how fortunate we are. Our world has significant hazards, but our society suffers less from premature illness and death than any humans in history ever have. Many of our most common ailments are the result of excess, rather than deprivation.

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COVID Testing in Brown County: Why You Should Bother

COVID Testing in Brown County: Why You Should Bother

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has recommended COVID testing for all persons who live and work in Brown County.

The testing centers have a pretty convenient registration and drive-through process, but it’s still about a half hour of your life spent waiting.

“But I feel fine, and I’ve barely been out of my house! I don’t need a test!” you might be saying. And you’re right…you personally don’t need one, just like you personally don’t need census data.

But it’s still important to do it.

Asymptomatic testing ain’t about you. The data isn’t for you. It’s for the health departments and the epidemiologists who are still trying to get a better estimate of what the virus has done, is doing, and can do.

After everything COVID has already cost us all – the fear, the disruptions, the jobs, the isolation and boredom, and the growing mistrust in our public servants – another ask for the greater good seems like a lot.

But think back to all those numbers you heard early in the pandemic about transmissibility, the high number of asymptomatic carriers, and the estimated death rate…all those numbers you used to decide how scared (or not) to be, and how seriously (or not) to take the isolation recommendations. Those figures didn’t come from nowhere. They came from countries that were already grappling with COVID-19 and had some clumps of data to work with.

Yes, some of the numbers we’ve heard haven’t always been very accurate. But the only way they get more accurate is with better measurement, and that means a lot more data points…like yours.

Better numbers will hopefully help us make smarter decisions about when we can go back to something like normal life, and what we do (and don’t) need to do when COVID breaks out again. Maybe it’ll be less than we’ve done, maybe it’ll be more.

But wouldn’t it be better not to have to guess?

FAQ – Testing in Brown County

There is always another play.

There is always another play.

In April, I asked parents of these teams if they wanted join me in a donation system to give some deeper meaning to the girls’ season after my mom, Patty Thorne, had passed away from breast cancer on January 6th of this year. We have all had people we know affected by cancer and several families joined in from each team. For the 8U team I set up $1 for every run scored, $5 for every homerun and $5 for every win. For the 10U team, same thing but also adding $1 for every strikeout recorded by one of our pitchers.  The girls did us proud and played hard all season long. With us we have 2 pitchers that recorded over 200 strikeouts just themselves and a handful of players who hit a number of homeruns, not to mention all the runs scored and wins recorded. The 8U team finished with a record of 20-3 and the 10U team recorded 18 wins against just 9 loses. Both teams won multiple tournaments with many top 3 finishes. Outstanding seasons by both teams, we are very proud of them and their efforts made this possible.  

When we lose someone we love, whether it is to cancer or any other reason, the reality is that the world around us goes on and barely skips a beat.  But to those closest to that loss, we know that is not the case. There are many random moments when we are left feeling, man, I wish they were here to share this moment with us.  Or we tell our kids things like, Grandma or Grandpa would have been so proud of you. We are faithful people so we know that the person missing is in their true home with the Lord, but let’s be honest, we would sacrifice a lot for even one more moment to hug our loved one. 

In a busy world that stops for no one, our loved ones remain alive with us in our hearts as we remember them and thinking about all the things that we shared with them. We as coaches always like to think that the games we teach are metaphors for life. Some parents may think we are a little crazy, but I do believe that the lessons we learn in sports, especially as our kids are growing into teenagers and then young adults, are lessons that they can carry with them all of their life.  Working hard for something you love, being a great teammate, carrying a positive attitude, and learning how to gracefully win and lose are all things we teach among many other things. These are all lessons those that passed on before us would want us to know and remember as we navigate this life without them.

Personally, I teach my players that “There is always another play.” This means, for example, that after the out is recorded at first base, the players on the field need to be ready to perhaps throw the baserunner out at third or watch for a play at home.  In other words, we can’t be content with just that one out. From when open gyms started in December to just a couple weeks ago, that was our play to first. We got that out. Now, today, this is the other play. This is the part of a being a teammate that carries off the field and into the community. We have the ability to impact those around us, often times its people we won’t ever know or the smallest gesture like a friendly hello that can change a person’s entire day or more. Your actions and attitude matter more than you’ll ever know, so just keep that in mind on and off the field.  A positive attitude and a giving heart have the ability to literally change the world.  

With that the girls of Denmark Softball, would like to present these funds, in the total amount of $3,237, to the cancer center to help those currently battling this terrible disease.  We hope that they know that even though we don’t know them individually, that there are people out there thinking and caring about, and praying for their successful recovery.

You voted us “Best.” We call it “nothing less than you deserve.”

You voted us “Best.” We call it “nothing less than you deserve.”

Biggest. Boldest. “Best.”

From the day we opened 43 years ago, Green Bay Oncology has had only one focus, one guiding star for every decision: what is best for our patients? And now, we are deeply honored and humbled to have been recognized for that dedication—by you, our patients, families, and friends.

Thanks to you, through the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Appleton Post Crescent and Oshkosh Northwestern, we’ve been voted the 2019 “Best Cancer Care Team” in each category throughout Northeast Wisconsin.

The awards include:

  • BEST OF THE BAY – Green Bay Oncology
  • BEST OF THE VALLEY – Green Bay Oncology at Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital Cancer Center
  • BEST OF WINNEBAGO COUNTY – Green Bay Oncology at Ascension Michael D. Wachtel Cancer Center

We’ve always believed where you live shouldn’t impact your access to ground-breaking cancer care and research. In fact, we know being close to home can help with healing and make some tough treatment options a little more comfortable. It’s why we’ve reinvented how our doctors collaborate, making sure that no stone goes unturned in finding the right therapies for our patients. And it’s why we commit to treating the complex cases others won’t.

Because cancer won’t give up until we force it. It’s something we’re relentless about.

Green Bay Oncology
Relentless

Cynthia’s Scholarship Story

Cynthia’s Scholarship Story

Dr. Jules Blank actually treated my mother when she had leukemia. She passed away very young and I was just 12 years old at the time.

I never would have imagined that I would come full circle and be receiving a scholarship in Dr. Blank’s name to continue my education in healthcare. They didn’t know it then, but my mother’s nurses had a huge impact on me.

When a patient receives a cancer diagnosis, there is often little positivity in their lives at that time. As a registered nurse, it means a lot to me to be a small ray of hope in the lives of my patients and the lives of their families. Losing my mother to cancer gives me a unique perspective and a drive to be a source of strength for my patients.

One of the core values of Green Bay Oncology is to embrace the difficult. My patients have taught me so much about what this means. Seeing the strength it takes to endure what our patients go through gives me a different perspective on life. It shows me what is truly important and that often when we are pushed to our limits, there is still more to give.

I have always been driven to learn, and I am grateful for the support from Green Bay Oncology to pursue my dream of becoming a Nurse Practitioner.

Recently, I became a first-time mom. And while being in graduate school is not conducive to this, the support I have received from Green Bay Oncology and the JULES BLANK Oncology Knowledge SCHOLARSHIP while going back to school will never be forgotten.

Jessica’s Scholarship Story

Jessica’s Scholarship Story

Healthcare can be challenging but the satisfaction I feel from changing peoples lives for the better is what has made me passionate about this field.

When I was given the opportunity to work in the Green Bay Oncology clinic at OSF I was excited to learn a new nursing specialty but I didn’t anticipate how special the bond with oncology patients would be. I look forward to building caring relationships with our patients that are scared or nervous at the beginning of their treatment journey. Providing relief from unnecessary worry and helping patients feel as comfortable as possible is a top priority.

I was driven to pursue a BSN degree to increase my nursing knowledge and provide high quality care for the patients I care for as well as possibly open doors for professional advancement down the road.

At the time I was awarded the JULES BLANK Oncology Knowledge SCHOLARSHIP, my next course was scheduled to start in a couple weeks and I was a month away from going on maternity leave. I was reluctantly considering taking the upcoming semester off due to changes in family finances that the baby would bring. The gift of the oncology scholarship couldn’t have come at a better time. I was able to continue furthering my education and move closer to completing my degree with much less stress.

Thank you again to Dr. Jules Blank and Green Bay Oncology for the scholarship award!

Jess’ Scholarship Story

Jess’ Scholarship Story

As a little girl my dream was not to be a ballerina or a princess but to be a heart surgeon.

For Christmas gifts I received microscope sets and heart models, and in high school I took every science class I could get my hands on!

My Grandma who I was very close with passed away from Leukemia the week of my nursing school graduation. She was one of the most important people in my life. Her cancer diagnosis impacted my decision to pursue oncology. I think of her often when caring for patients here at Green Bay Oncology.

One of my favorite things about Green Bay Oncology is our clinics strive not only to give our patients the best care, but treat them like family. I think all of our values are important to the care we provide our patients. Pursue Empathetic, Caring Relationships is my favorite value, but close seconds are Embrace the Difficult and Be Better. I truly value the relationships I have built with my patients and their family members.

I have always enjoyed being a student and learning and by obtaining my BSN I will be able to provide the best care for our patients and become an even better nurse.

The JULES BLANK Oncology Knowledge SCHOLARSHIP has reduced the cost of schooling and I’m able to focus more on my school work and less on paying for it. As a working mom it’s already a struggle to manage work and kids and life outside of work. I’m thankful to be a recipient of the JULES BLANK Oncology Knowledge SCHOLARSHIP.

Kristy’s Scholarship Story

Kristy’s Scholarship Story

I have always known that I wanted to do something to help people, although it took me a while to figure out what that meant.

When I was younger, I always thought I would be a veterinarian. I then shifted my focus to helping people as I grew older. When I was sixteen, my mother was diagnosed with ALL, and all of the hours I spent on the ninth floor of St. Vincent Hospital helped turn me to nursing. I actually never thought I’d be able to work in oncology; I once had to float on ninth floor and absolutely dreaded returning back to that place. However, the way it made me feel to be able to help these patients and provide a sense of security for them completely changed my life. It was shortly after that experience that I saw an opening at Green Bay Oncology and felt compelled to apply.

My favorite Green Bay Oncology value is “Embrace the Difficult.” We are so quick to tell others to “focus on the positives” but tend to forget that the negatives are not going away. By doing so, they are only being pushed aside to build up and come back later. By embracing the difficult situations, we can help to solve these problems and make them into learning experiences. 

I look forward to being able to make my patients’ cancer journeys easier in any way I can. Until you’ve lived through it, it’s hard to truly know how easy it is to get lost in the diagnosis. I especially look forward to being able to help the families of my patients in any way possible, as they often need support and guidance as well.

I am driven to pursue further education because it’s in my nature. I always want to excel and improve; I tend to compete with myself. I am recently completing my second bachelor’s degree and have now been in college as many years as I spent in grade school and high school combined. I may take a semester off here and there, but I don’t know if I ever see myself really being “done” with school.

The JULES BLANK Oncology Knowledge SCHOLARSHIP allowed me to focus on school, work, and my family, while easing the stress of tuition and book costs greatly.  It’s always an added stressor when you suddenly add thousands of dollars to your bills, and it honestly can be such a deterrent from taking classes at all. Because of this scholarship, I was able to take classes each semester and now am only a few weeks away from graduation.

Clinical Trial Award

However, only one in five U.S. oncologists participates in the NCORP – the National Cancer Institute’s pipeline that delivers clinical trials from the academic centers to the community cancer clinics – and it’s easy to understand why: it’s lot of grant-writing, administrative work, and staying informed enough to match patients to trials that might help them.

But if you’re dedicated, you make time for the important things – and Green Bay Oncology physicians are dedicated to clinical research.

Though only a minority of NCORP physicians get recognized (81 physicians) for excellence in patient enrollments, this year FOUR Green Bay Oncology physicians received this honor:

●  Dr. Anthony Jaslowski – Gold Certificate

●  Dr. Brian Burnette – Silver Certificate

●  Dr. Sigurdur Bodvarsson – Silver Certificate

●  Dr. Matthew Ryan – Silver Certificate

    

Recognition is nice, but doing the right thing for people facing cancer is even better – and that’s why our physicians keep at it.

It’s the right thing to do.

Clinical Trial Award

Clinical Trial Award

Getting the most advanced cancer treatment to patients requires that cancer doctors do two things: support the process that develops these treatments, and give their patients access to these trial-phase treatments.

However, only one in five U.S. oncologists participates in the NCORP – the National Cancer Institute’s pipeline that delivers clinical trials from the academic centers to the community cancer clinics – and it’s easy to understand why: it’s lot of grant-writing, administrative work, and staying informed enough to match patients to trials that might help them.

But if you’re dedicated, you make time for the important things – and Green Bay Oncology physicians are dedicated to clinical research.

Though only a minority of NCORP physicians get recognized for excellence in patient enrollments, this year five Green Bay Oncology physicians received this honor:

●  Dr. Brian Burnette – Gold Certificate
●  Dr. Sigurdur Bodvarsson – Silver Certificate
●  Dr. Anthony Jaslowski – Silver Certificate
●  Dr. Matthew Ryan – Silver Certificate
●  Dr. Ruth Warren – Silver Certificate

Recognition is nice, but doing the right thing for people facing cancer is even better – and that’s why our physicians keep at it.

It’s the right thing to do.