A Year of Learning: World Cancer Day 2021

A Year of Learning: World Cancer Day 2021

International Perspectives

Feb 03, 2021

By Angela Zambrano Harvey, MD

2021 shows a new path to start after a year in which we learned to value what we have: our family, our work, friends, the air, the sun, the water, freedom, and one of our most precious assets, our health.

2020 was a year of natural disasters, fires, floods, and frosts; these changes were caused mostly by global warming, causing losses in agriculture, incalculable losses in wildlife, and increasing migrations.

2020 was also a year of learning; at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to enter isolation for long periods, moving away from our loved ones and friends for the one purpose of protecting ourselves. We went through difficult times of frustration, sadness, and pain. We lost friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors. Changes occurred in the global economy, in each individual’s priorities, and companies’ management, among others.

We had to learn to work from our homes and, for many of us, to get started in telemedicine. The dynamic of academic meetings changed and had to be virtual to decrease contact between people. Patients also learned how to use communication tools such as the internet, computers, and cell phones. Medical associations designed treatment guides for patients with cancer and launched programs for emotional support. Scientists worked tirelessly to learn more about the disease, the virus’ biological behavior and how it manifests itself.

Without a doubt, the pandemic has been a great test that has revealed the need to take care of each other, to offer help to others, to be together while distanced, to sacrifice so much in order to stay safe, wearing a new garment—the face mask—and becoming obsessive with cleaning our hands. There have been many changes. Now it is time to practice what we have learned, together in the distance, all chasing the same goal, which is the key to being safe.

Dr. Harvey is an oncologist at Hemato Oncologia Fundacion Valle del Lili in Cali, Colombia. Disclosure.

COVID-19 Resources from ASCO


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