Pandemic precautions have made cancer treatment all the more isolating. In Los Angeles, when social worker Sydney Siegal of a University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), oncology center learned that its infusion clinics would be closed to visitors even for first-time chemo patients, she was determined to ease the isolation patients would inevitably feel. "For many people, having a loved one by your side on that first day -- whether a family member or friend -- that physical presence is so important," she said. Siegel and her colleagues invited former chemo patients to pen letters for new patients who would have to receive the treatment alone during the pandemic. "Hey there, friend," Kat Cheng, 36, wrote to the unknown patient who would receive her letter, "though you’re in unenviably unique circumstances, you are not alone.” While the intent was that the letters could provide some solace to new patients, they also affected the writers themselves. "It’s not enough to survive, you have to thrive. And that is a mental act,” reflected Tulin Manjir, 70, whose life expectancy after diagnosis was 24-38 months. "For Manjir, writing the letter offered a chance to reflect on the totality of her cancer experience," reported the Los Angeles Times. She signed off as "A fellow traveler."

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