Ask the Doctor Question:
I am an 80-year-old CLL patient in the watch and wait period, with as yet no clinical signs. My son died of cancer recently. The family is having a memorial service in the Bay Area where we all live now, and a second service is planned in Massachusetts where my three children were raised. Is it wise for me to fly to Boston in October?
Answer: We are so very sorry to hear about the loss of your son. Our deepest condolences to you and your family. Everything with COVID and CLL right now must involve performing a risk assessment. For instance, normally we would say no. Traveling in an airplane is not considered a risk you would normally want to take. But under these rare circumstances, it is one that you must carefully think through and then consider if it is a risk you want to take.
As you know, Delta is on the rise and by October, it could be worse than all of the numbers we saw at this time last year. It is not just the plane ride – it is all the points of contact in between as well that you will need to carefully consider. If you can guarantee that everyone around you will be masked, can maintain social distancing, and that they are vaccinated, then that would be a calculated risk you could consider taking. However, if you are going to be around unvaccinated individuals, if the service is indoors, etc., then those may be risks you do not want to take.
You should definitely consider getting the booster vaccine and then having your Spike protein antibody levels tested so you know if you have any level of protection against COVID. You should also request that all of your direct family members that you will be around are fully vaccinated for your sake. You and others you are in close contact with should wear tightly fitted N-95’s, and you should avoid indoor gatherings as much as possible. We know this is not what you wanted to hear, but unfortunately these are the things we must all consider in order to stay safe at this time.