FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – As the threat of coronavirus continues to increase throughout Colorado, residents with severely compromised immune systems are being forced to reconsider their life-dependent treatments in hospitals. Many people battling cancer, like 20-year-old Olivia Bunya, said their doctors considered postponing her chemotherapy in fear of her being exposed to COVID-19.
Bunya, who is battling a rare cancer called “Yolk Sac,” told CBS4’S Dillon Thomas her doctors evaluated the pros and cons of pushing back her third round of chemotherapy. Bunya’s chemotherapy is typically done at a hospital in Aurora, which would require her to increase her contact with others who could be infected with COVID-19.
“I’m going through chemo. I’m starting my third round,” Bunya said via video conferencing.
While many of her peers, and other Coloradans, are using the stay-at-home order to do home projects and exercise outdoors, Bunya is forced to stay isolated indoors as often as possible.
“It is not fun. I am not having a blast,” Bunya said.
Bunya said her doctors gave her clearance to return to many daily activities after her second round of chemotherapy,
“My doctors had just told me a week or two before COVID-19 started that I could start going back to work, and going to the gym, and hanging out with friends,” Bunya said. “I almost got freedom. But, it just got snatched right back. But, I am doing okay.”
Bunya was told she should remain inside her home as much as possible while also wearing masks in her own house. Doctors feared her family’s movement out of her home could bring the deadly virus to her in the comfort of her home.
“If I were to get COVID-19, I could potentially die. Because, my immune system is so compromised from chemo,” Bunya said.
Ultimately, Bunya’s doctors decided it was best to take their chances at moving forward with her third round of chemo. They hoped getting the chemotherapy over with would allow her immune system to bounce back thoroughly as the virus continues to spread in the coming months.
“Now, I don’t leave my house unless it is to come to chemo, because it is so much greater of a risk,” Bunya said.
Bunya hoped sharing her story with CBS4 viewers would not only encourage those who are ill to keep fighting, but also to plead with those who are not compromised to stay home for the sake of others.
“It is really frustrating when I go to the grocery store, I wear gloves and a mask. Yesterday, I saw a kid take a picture of me and he smirked. It is frustrating, because they take it so lightly as a joke. They don’t realize they could be carrying it around and passing it around to people who are compromised like me,” Bunya said.
To limit the possibility of bringing COVID-19 in to hospitals, many are not allowing patients to bring guests in with them. Because of that, Bunya has been going through her full-week of chemotherapy sessions by herself. She has been sitting in her hospital room and working on homework while battling cancer.
Bunya hoped to recover and one-day study physical therapy at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
“I am hopeful I am not going to die. So, it is better to have a positive outlook and be positive, than be negative and worsen your case,” Bunya said. “I just think people need to be more considerate and stay at home.”