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Dana-Farber CEO Launches Campaign Encouraging Cancer Patients, Survivors To Get COVID Vaccine

BOSTON (CBS) - Gabby Spear battled breast cancer several years ago and is now doing well.

And those days spent at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute were not terrible. She now looks at the facility like a second home. But COVID has created a new fear for Gabby, and other cancer patients and survivors.

"It also makes me nervous about what [COVID] could do. Am I more susceptible?...It just puts additional fears that may or may not be there for folks who have not through a cancer journey or cancer diagnosis," said Spear. "You live through the unknown with cancer, and now we're living through the unknown with the pandemic."

Laurie Glimcher, the CEO of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, says they have thousands of patients at any given time. But the number of patients who've completed treatment is almost immeasurable.

And while they hope to soon start vaccinating patients against COVID, they're advising all patients, past and present, to be especially careful with this virus.

"Even individuals who have survived cancer are at a slightly increased higher risk," said Glimcher. "Chemotherapy or radiation therapy does weaken your immune system a little bit. So there's a higher incidence of COVID 19 infections in cancer patients."

On Wednesday at 5 p.m., Dana-Farber will a virtual town hall for all of its patients to emphasize that anyone who has had cancer is invited to join in.

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