By Jeff Todd

GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado’s cancer patients still must wait weeks and will be in a vaccine phase with millions of others before they can get a life-saving chance. While other states have made cancer a priority, Colorado continues to push back potential vaccines for patients.

“Getting the vaccine would mean seeing my family again and having dinner with friends again, going to the grocery store without fear,” said Nancee Pronsati who is living with stage IV lung cancer.

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Pronsati has never smoked and that caused a late diagnosis after she’d lived more than a year with a constant cough.

“ALK-positive is a part of your DNA. Basically, what it means for me is my DNA started to misfire and mutate and the cells just grew rapidly. It’s different than the type of lung cancer you get when you’re smoking just because this is caused by a genetic mutation instead,” she said. “We really do fall in the area for better or worse, with like 75-year-old people for risk. And not even just risk to us, but risk of taking up a hospital bed that somebody else might need.”

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For the past year she’s been largely isolated in her home in Jefferson County to protect herself from the virus.

“No dinners out, all our vacations canceled. And all of that sounds a little trivial except when you have cancer or any kind of illness, you worry a little about if you can easily re-plan it next year,” Pronsati said. “It’s like a 30% chance of not making it, and a 65% chance of being in the hospital if you get it.”

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Some states have placed cancer patients higher in priority tiers for vaccine. Colorado will allow people with two specific health conditions to get vaccinated starting in phase 1.B3. People with one health condition can sign up for the vaccine in phase 1.B4 expected later in March, but joined by millions of others.

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“I feel like in Colorado, we’ve managed COVID in so many ways that I admire, and I am pleased with. The vaccine has been really surprising because federal guidelines, CDC guidelines had a whole list of chronic conditions that would have been vaccinated around the same time as the 70-year-old people. We were initially there and then, slowly but surely, it’s been pushed back to the point where now you have to have two chronic conditions only on a specific list to get vaccinated. It’s surprising, I think, the way that it’s been rolled out here,” Pronsati said.

Jeff Todd