With Australia's success at flattening the curve and the number of new cases dropping, governments around the country have begun easing some of the restrictions established to combat COVID-19.
But health authorities have stressed that the significant gains we've made in eliminating coronavirus in our community does not give us a free pass to ignore the rules still in place. And if you needed any more of an incentive to stay committed to social distancing and keep COVID-19 at bay, Marie Pandeloglou's situation is one of the many you should keep front of mind.
"I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010," she told Women's Health. "Just when I thought I was in remission, in 2015 my breast cancer returned, only this time it metastasised to my lungs, liver and more recently to my brain."
Marie had only just begun new chemotherapy and radiation treatment before the first news of COVID-19 came to light.
"Living with metastatic breast cancer has been extremely challenging; the surgeries, radiotherapy sessions, chemotherapy and hormone therapy," she says. "But it has become even harder now."
Marie says the virus is a greater risk for her and many others in her position.
"I am considered high-risk as I am undergoing active treatment for my cancer where my immune system is compromised," she explains.
"My oncologist’s treatment decision has been influenced by this ongoing pandemic. She has chosen a form of chemotherapy that has less contact time in the chemo ward and more time doing oral chemotherapy where I can stay safely at home. I am also taking injections to help increase my white cell count, something that might not have been necessary before COVID-19 but is now essential."
And it's not just the treatment that compromises her outlook but the isolation as well.
"Where once I was able to have my family and friends there for support and to share a laugh in the chemo ward or a visit at home, I am now in isolation going through the chemotherapy symptoms alone and waiting anxiously for my husband to return from work," she says.
"The hardest part of living with a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis during COVID-19 , is not seeing my daughters who live away from home. Stage IV diagnosis like mine, makes everyday special. Not being able to hug my daughters and parents, who don’t live with me, is very difficult and sad."
That's why she's strongly encouraging others to follow the rules, no matter how seemingly safe they might feel.
"How is someone supposed to be given a fighting chance when the severity of the virus isn’t taken seriously by everybody?" she says "I can’t stress enough just how important it is to follow the government’s lockdown rules and restrictions applicable in your state and everyone to stay home. This isn’t just for you, but about all of us. We need to work together to get control of this virus. Please take precaution measures seriously, to help those living with illnesses like cancer, our lives depend on it."
This article originally appeared on Women's Health Australia.