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Mom in Phoenix starts battle with cancer in the middle of coronavirus pandemic

“It would be very likely that I would die if I got the virus," Haley Essig said.

GILBERT, Ariz. — Battling cancer is hard enough. The possible threat of getting coronavirus makes it even harder for a mother in Phoenix. 

During a worldwide pandemic, patients like Haley Essig are now forced to face their treatments alone, sometimes taking extreme steps to survive.

“It would be very likely that I would die if I got the virus," said Haley Essig.

These are words she never expected to say out loud. But, that's a reality for her now. 

“I was angry," Essig said. "I was sad. I was really scared."

Essig is a mom of two little girls and a wife.

“It's scary to recognize that our lives are never going to be the same," her husband Blake said. 

She was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin's Lymphoma at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

“They say 85 percent survival rate for this cancer and all I hear is 15 percent chance of dying and that’s terrifying," she said.

Essig says she was given a good cancer prognosis from doctors, but the coronavirus has changed a lot when it comes to medical visits, treatment, and home life.

“Going through cancer is something that’s really scary," she said. "It’s something that I’d like my family to be there with me.”

But Essig has to go to treatments alone. It's one step Dr. Andrew Carroll says Valley hospitals are taking to keep sick patients safe.

“Most hospitals are designating floors for Coronavirus, so everyone knows they have to do the respiratory protection and do all of the right things," Dr. Carroll said.

The restrictions start before patients walk through hospital doors.

“Everybody’s being screened before they go to the hospital," Dr. Carroll said. "Even before you go into the emergency room they’re screening you to make sure you don’t have COVID, so all of the people who are there for planned surgeries are not being exposed to those that are sick.”

Dr. Carroll says ER visits are up right now because people are worried about the Coronavirus. He says he believes as soon as primary care physicians can do more testing on the front lines, it should relieve the influx of people in emergency rooms.

For Essig, what she calls her “new normal” has already begun.

"We're wearing masks when we leave," Essig said. "I wish everyone would wear a mask when they left their house."

She gets ready to start chemo soon, alone. She's fighting for her family while doing everything she can to avoid the Coronavirus at the same time.


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