Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy's Impact on NJ's Cancer Patients

Note: My home has made it through Hurricane Sandy with only minor damage to the roof. We are lucky to have power, internet & cable and our water is drinkable. Most of my relatives who live in various parts of the state of NJ are without power and many without water.  I have relatives and friends with homes on LBI, in Seaside Park and Ocean Beach III and Long Branch. Some know their homes are still standing while others have no idea.  We try to check out aerial photos for shots of their location since they are unable to get to those locations. I have another friend with a home in Monmouth Beach who had water up to their second floor and the home is now uninhabitable. But every single one of them is alive and safe. Thank God. 

Sandy was a huge storm affected almost 1000 miles of the northeast. But Sandy's impact on the lives of cancer patients is far reaching too. 

My cancer center, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey(CINJ)  is located in New Brunswick, NJ four blocks from the Raritan River. Sandy caused the Raritan River to flood its banks. The city was closed. Even Rutger's University located there is closed. I can count on one hand the number of times Rutgers has closed in its 200+ year history. There is a boil water advisory in affect and only essential and hospital personnel were allowed into the city. Power is out and public transportation is closed down.

Last night on facebook I read this post by CINJ. 
"Due to the hurricane, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey will be closed until Monday November 5th. Please share this as we are unable to distribute notification through email and on our website. Patients will be contacted directly. "

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital RWJUH( located across the street from CINJ and its affiliate hospital) posted this:
"Important Announcement for all UMDNJ staff and patients:
UMDNJ has announced that they are cancelling all outpatient services for October 31, November 1 and November 2.
Patients and staff of UMDNJ should continue to monitor University communications outlets for updates.
The radiology group , University Radiology Group where I have my scans done posted this:
"Because of storm-related power outages, our offices will be closed Wednesday morning, October 31st until noon. We will be closely monitoring the outage situation during the morning hours. If power is restored to any of our facilities, we will re-open that office Wednesday afternoon. Status updates will be posted to this web site page, Facebook and Twitter when possible. Our staff will also be calling you to reschedule/confirm your appointment. " 

Those are pretty dramatic effects of the storm. 

I have or should I say had,  an appointment  for a port flush for tomorrow at 11:30 am. I get one every 6-8 weeks so I have a window in which to get it done. I am not too worried.

But I am thinking about my friends who are in treatment for recurrences. I think of all the cancer patients adults and children in treatment  in the region who are missing a dose of chemo or radiation or are unable to get a blood test. Maybe their facility is closed or  they can't get to treatment because roads are closed.  When Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005 I had just started my chemotherapy. I remember thinking how terrible it would be to miss a chemotherapy treatment.After all I needed to kill this cancer. And here is the same situation happening in my home state. On Sunday morning I had packed some things in case we needed to leave our home. The first thing I took out was my treatment binder - with surgical and CT reports and drug information. 

One ovarian cancer survivor I know had an appointment yesterday for a CT scan to see if she was back in remission and done with chemotherapy. She now has to wait. I feel that waiting and not knowing what is going on is one of the hardest things to deal with when diagnosed with cancer. 

This storm was unprecedented. I know the hospitals and cancer centers are doing all they can for their patients under the conditions they have experienced. 

 Back in 2006 I missed two treatments due to low platelets. At first I was upset but I rested, watched TV, painted and was ready to go the next week. So if you are reading this page and are missing a treatment, you may not be able to watch TV if your power is out I just know you will be ok. 

Every Day is a Blessing! 


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