‘It’s your life.’ Cancer patients urge others to keep doctor appointments amid COVID-19 pandemic

ATLANTA — If you’ve put off going to the doctor because of the pandemic a couple of metro Atlanta cancer patients have a message for you.

“It’s your life,” Rob Logan said. “If you feel something wrong, if you feel something’s not right with you, get it checked out.”

When Logan was diagnosed with metastatic head and neck cancer, he was given six to 12 months to live. That was four and a half years ago.

The Henry County man, with the support of his wife and kids, fought back in clinical trials at Emory Winship Cancer Institute. Then the pandemic hit.

Logan and his wife, Anne Marie, spoke to Channel 2′s Jorge Estevez about receiving cancer treatment during a global pandemic.

“At any moment, Anne Marie, were you thinking, he shouldn’t go, he should stay home, he’s really delicate, he should just wait just a couple of months until this thing blows over?” Estevez asked.

“Absolutely not,” Anne Marie Logan said. “He knew he had to get his treatment or he would die.”

According to the American Cancer Society, about 35% of Americans missed routine cancer screenings because of the pandemic.

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They also estimated 12 million people lost their employer sponsored healthcare. They reported those people were disproportionally Black and Hispanic Americans.

Research published in Epic Health Research Network found screening for breast, cervical and colon cancers was down 86% to 94% back in March 2020.

“I have lots of patients that are delaying their visits because of the pandemic,” explained Wellstar Heath System physician Dr. Steven Lenhard.

He was fearful that cancer patients will miss treatments and they may not learn they even have cancer.

“If you put off the diagnosis, it’s going to be harder to cure, it gives more chance for things to spread.”

One of Lenhard’s patients, Jim Waddell, 74, didn’t think twice about calling his office after a scary episode in February.

“I just was walking up the steps in my house, I got to the top those steps and I was out of breath,” Waddell said.

It surprised the physically active Army Veteran, who’s run in the last 18 Peachtree Road Races.

“We started cat scans and immediately started diagnosis, which turned out to be lymphoma.”

Lenhard said he hoped Jim’s quick diagnosis will add years to his life.

“The worst thing is having something serious, and not having it diagnosed,” Lenhard said.

Rob Logan couldn’t agree more. He said when he started feeling sick back in 2017, he waited months to go to the doctor. He had a message for you, if you’re putting off that doctor’s visit because of the pandemic.

“I knew something was wrong with me and I didn’t go right away and get it checked out,” Logan said. “I waited and it may end up costing me my life.”