LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Despite fighting stage four breast cancer for the last seven years, Lara MacGregor said she was working full-time and relatively healthy going into the pandemic. Then her cancer started to progress.
"Whatever amount of time I have left, I want to live with joy and love and laughter and see our friends, but instead I feel trapped in my home because I'm so scared of this pandemic," MacGregor said.
Immunocompromised, the founder of the nonprofit Hope Scarves got the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it was available to her.
"As someone who relies on science to help save my life, I say all the time, I'm hanging on for science, for more cancer treatments, for more therapies to extend my life and increase quality of life," MacGregor said. "So if we created this vaccine that was potentially life saving and could prevent severe illness, I was the first in line to get it."
As cases and hospitalizations started to decline, MacGregor said she felt relief. Wearing a mask is a nuisance for some, but for a person who already has fluid around their lungs, a mask can be suffocating.
The delta variant, though, did not allow MacGregor much time away from her mask. Across the country, more and more people are getting sick with COVID — causing more fear and stress for those fighting terminal illnesses.
"I think about how badly I want a cancer drug to save my life, a therapy to slow the spread of cancer in my body, and how if there was one available, I would take it in a heartbeat," MacGregor said. "And here we have a tool that can lower the severity of the disease and slow the spread and it just baffles me that more people aren't recognizing the significance of participating."
When officials announced people with weakened immune systems should take an extra dose of the COVID vaccine to increase efficacy, MacGregor was one of the first to receive her third shot.
Medical oncologist Dr. Beth Riley with the Brown Cancer Center said the third dose helps those who are immunocompromised reach the level of protection most of the population hit when they received their two doses.
Riley said 85% of their patients eligible for the third shot received theirs, the others have it scheduled for a later date.
Both MacGregor and Riley encouraged anyone who is uncertain to receive the vaccine, especially after the Food and Drug Administration fully approved the Pfizer shots.