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Colorectal cancer doesn’t stop for COVID-19. We know this, and the Alliance remains dedicated to the mission of ending colorectal cancer in our lifetime. 

But that doesn’t mean we haven’t made a few organizational changes, with the health and well-being of staff in mind. Today, we are all working from home and discovering, just as you are, what this COVID-19 reality is all about.

In this staff interview, we chat with Marielle McLeod, Certified Bilingual Patient & Family Support Navigator, about work and life since the coronavirus pandemic.

Who are you isolating with and how's it going? 

Who am I not isolating with, honestly? I have three daughters in high school and a seven-year-old son, our little westy, and the husband. I think we’re all doing pretty fair. The high schoolers miss their friends—the lack of social interaction is really starting to take a toll on them. 

How did you come to the Alliance?

I lost my job during colorectal cancer treatment. My company called me and said I was too expensive. I didn’t know about the Alliance at that time, but just as I was shutting down my job search one day, I saw a post for a bilingual navigator at the Alliance. I thought, you have to be kidding me! Look at that! I sent my resume and a little blurb to Nancy, the Alliance’s director of patient and family support. I talked to Nancy on and off, then I met the team, and then had my final interview. Two years later, here I am. It’s like serendipity, or the cosmos aligning. 

How does being a survivor help you do your job?

It helps me navigate the resources we provide to patients and caregivers. Sometimes, when I'm on the Helpline, a patient will call and say, “This sounds crazy, but have you heard of this or that?” And I say, “That’s not crazy—I know exactly what you mean.” We then get into a conversation about how I'm a survivor, and the tension truly melts. When I was sick, I didn’t have anyone to talk about this. So that we’re even able to provide temporary relief to someone on the phone, someone who is so scared, it’s just fantastic and fulfilling on so many levels. 

What advice or resources are you sharing with patients most often during COVID-19?

The resources I've been sharing most often are the Alliance’s Buddy Program and the Crisis Financial Assistance Fund. A lot of our patients are becoming unemployed. Every little bit of support and assistance helps. Also, our Resource Guide addresses other needs allies may have. 

How are you keeping yourself sane?

I’m working out a lot more than normal—twice a day, plus four or five mile walks. But my husband, a big guy, is always burning more calories than me. It’s not fair! 

What are you most looking forward to doing when everything returns to normal?  

We live in South Carolina, so going to the beach and the pool! Our neighborhood pool is closed right now, and we just keep staring at it. There are no inflatable pools in the stores, either. Those are in everyone else’s driveways. So we bought a sprinkler that the kids run through, while throwing water balloons at each other. I laugh at myself so much during this situation. It helps me cope.  

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance is here for you during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit our COVID-19 resource page for more information and links to support.


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