When COVID-19 Hits Home: A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story

Positive Coronavirus test

I never thought I would be saying this, but I tested positive for COVID-19. The virus came to my dwelling place and touched me.

Being a mesothelioma cancer survivor, I knew I was at high risk if I contracted the virus. It was one of my worst nightmares come true.

How I got COVID-19 is still a mystery. I do work in a hospital, but I work in the office and rarely come in contact with patients.

I prayed so hard, did what I knew to do, washed my hands so much that my hands peeled, and wore my mask. And I still got the virus.

Anxious Moments Before COVID-19 Diagnosis

It started on a Monday, when I woke up with a splitting headache and an upset stomach. I thought it might have been due to stress because it was my kids’ first day of virtual school and my first day working from home.

I was a bit overwhelmed being an overnight teacher, and we had experienced technical issue after technical issue. My head was hurting so bad, but I took Tylenol and continued to press my way through.

Wednesday came and I still had a headache and my sinus issues had gotten bad. I was congested and my whole face hurt. So, I made an appointment with my doctor.

She thought it was a sinus infection, especially because I had two sinus infections last year alone. So, she gave me an arsenal of medications and sent me on my way.

I started taking the meds but was still feeling horrible, so horrible I had to leave work early that Thursday. In the back of my mind I kept thinking, “Oh Lord, please don’t let this be COVID-19.” I continued telling myself it was just a sinus infection and nothing more. I was enduring so much fear and anxiety.

When I lost my sense of smell and taste my husband told me to go get tested. After the test, I quarantined myself and waited. As I was waiting, I got a call from the lab saying the test sample was damaged and I had to come back in. So, I got tested again.

By this time I was feeling horrible and the meds weren’t really working, which made me even more fearful. One day I woke up with a heaviness in my chest and discovered that when I talked, even for a short period of time, I would get winded.

I checked for my test results every five minutes and saw nothing. I told my husband what was going on, and he rushed me to the emergency room.

COVID-19 Fears Become Reality

As I was walking into the hospital, I could barely catch my breath. The nurse took me back and went over the basics, then talked to me about my COVID-19 test. She asked if I had gotten the results back and I said no.

She looked at the computer, looked at me, then back at the computer. In that moment it felt as if my heart was in my stomach. She closed the door and looked at me, saying, “I don’t want you to have to wait any longer, but you have COVID. Your test came back positive. That’s why you’ve been feeling the way you have.”

I felt a lump in my throat and tears welling in my eyes as I screamed, “No, no, no!” I don’t want to die, I just thought it was a sinus infection. It felt like the room stopped and my mind was at a standstill. This was a nightmare.

How in the world did I get COVID? My heart started racing as I wept right there in the triage room. Even in that moment the nurse encouraged me, letting me know that I would be OK.

Surviving Mesothelioma and COVID-19

“I am OK. I will live,” is what I repeated to myself daily. The fear of it all, not knowing how this virus would react to your body, was scary. I have had some bad days, some rough days, some dark days, but I have also had some good days and better days. I can now say that I am over the hump. I made it through.

As a cancer survivor, it was one of my ultimate fears that I would get COVID-19. The anxiety tried to consume me, but I kept my faith and hung on to the hope that I would be OK.

Note this: If you are having any symptoms of COVID-19, please go to your nearest testing site to get tested. Don’t wait, don’t delay.

Educate yourself about the virus. The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com has published a helpful Guide to Coronavirus for Cancer Patients. You can also get the facts about COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control.

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Tamron Little

Mesothelioma Survivor and Writer

Tamron Little was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 2007 when she was just 21 years of age. After more than a decade of surviving with mesothelioma, Little is sharing her experiences to support people recently diagnosed with this rare, asbestos-related cancer.

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