Arm Yourself: Dr. DaSilva’s COVID-19 Story
Arm yourself with the facts to make an informed decision
A message from Monica DaSilva, MD, Breast Surgical Oncologist at Southcoast Health Breast Center, on how to arm yourself against COVID-19:
When the pandemic first emerged regionally in March of 2020, many of us were unsure what to expect. We thought about our families and our patients.
At the Southcoast Health Breast Center, we quickly formalized plans of action. We prioritized keeping our patients safe and away from the risk of contracting COVID-19. Many of the Breast Center patients are immunocompromised, and their health and wellbeing are our utmost concern. Although challenging, we had to consider still the critical care needed by our oncology patients and how to provide that optimal care through safer means. We achieved this by increasing our visitor restrictions and COVID-19 screenings.
The threat of COVID-19 was real and alarming – arm yourself
The threat of COVID-19 was real and alarming. The pandemic started to hit home when I witnessed close friends lose family members and heard of patients at Southcoast Health who sadly died of the disease.
Although I didn’t work directly on the frontlines, I was affected firsthand. Like many other healthcare providers, I was very concerned at the onset of the pandemic that I may bring COVID-19 home. Therefore, I was incredibly grateful when my family and I were eligible to be vaccinated.
Today, we are fortunate to have COVID-19 vaccines and know they are terrific in preventing hospitalizations, ICUs, ventilators, and death (in the 95% range). Unfortunately, though there are a few breakthrough cases, it is proven that unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19.
Over the past year, I’ve witnessed too much suffering and obstructions to routine care. Prior to the vaccine, many of my patients avoided their necessary medical treatment for advanced breast cancer because they feared being exposed to COVID-19. I watched patients whose breast cancer treatment was delayed or interrupted for weeks to months because they had contracted COVID-19, resulting in alternative treatment plans.
With vaccination, the effects of COVID-19 can be preventable
Now with vaccination, the effects of COVID-19 can be preventable. We also now know that those fully vaccinated who experience rare breakthrough cases are less likely to spread the virus because they have less viral load. In addition, in a highly vaccinated population, the virus has less chance to mutate—all benefits of a safe and effective vaccine.
At Southcoast Health, we lead by example. I am proud to be a part of a team of providers and healthcare workers who are vaccinated. Patients confide in us for their healthcare, and we must always have our patient’s wellbeing in mind.
By being vaccinated, patients should feel confident in their ability to receive care. At the Breast Center, we actively encourage many of our patients to get vaccinated to resume routine care, such as breast imaging and breast surgical services. We know that early detection may lead to a better prognosis and quicker recovery.
For our patients who have contracted COVID-19, we take a comprehensive approach to the multisystem symptoms affecting respiratory, cardiac, and clotting/vascular systems when planning our surgical management. Therefore, we have a wide array of medical/surgical disciplines to support our patients.
As a breast surgeon, I recognize the widespread effects COVID-19 has had on my patient population and their ability to receive routine and advanced cancer care. Arm yourself and get vaccinated, this is one of the many ways we can return to normalcy and have confidence in receiving vital and regular breast care.
We are at a crucial moment in human history and our actions today will help shape the future for so many. Arm yourself with the facts to make an informed decision.
Visit www.southcoast.org/covid-19-vaccination to find upcoming vaccination opportunities at Southcoast Health, and please speak to your medical provider if you have questions or concerns. You can also find other places to get vaccinated at www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-vaccination-locations.