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Managing Family and Work Obligations While Social Distancing at Home

By LLS Staff |


Many cancer patients who have undergone treatment understand what’s it’s like to have to practice social distancing and the importance of isolating themselves to safeguard their compromised immune system. And now amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, many of us are doing the same to protect our own health as well as the health of our loved-ones and our communities.

Those who continue to work throughout this crisis, might be dealing with new challenges. For some, remote work might be nothing new, but for others, not only are they adjusting to working from home, but children and other family members who reside with them are likely home too. Those who weren’t working before or are no longer working due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, are adjusting to having other members of the household home with them around the clock. While going out to dinner or the movies, or even a trip to the park are a temporary thing of the past, there are ways and resources that can help us all cope with the new normal.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has compiled some helpful tips to keep children healthy and active during this time. And The New York Times shares stories from readers about what it’s like to almost never be alone at home.

How one cancer survivor is making it work

While you might feel isolated and at times wonder how you are going to make it all work, know that you are not alone – many others are echoing the same thoughts and same emotions. We spoke to working dad and cancer survivor, Scott Peterson of Harrisburg, N.C. who shares how he and his family are handling work, home and parenting obligations. He hopes to provide some insight or inspiration for others facing similar circumstances.

Scott was diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in 2006. Ever since an LLS-funded treatment saved his life, he continues to fight cancer in various ways, including raising hundreds of thousands of dollars through LLS’s fundraising campaigns like Man & Woman of the Year and Team In Training.

Scott is an experienced marketing professional has a long history of success in the content development, sports, fundraising and events industries. Now that his work schedule has pivoted to a full-time work-from-home-structure, the busy father of two young daughters, 7-year-old Harper and 5-year-old Nora, who are newly homebound says, “There’s been some adjustments for sure, but there’s nothing more important to me than my family and helping find ways to end cancer.”

How have you developed a schedule for educational priorities with your children?

We have been working with our daughters’ amazing teachers to help set a schedule and priorities to keep their education moving and a top priority. What’s been beneficial is, we have incorporated more life skills into their day to day learning. My wife is very creative and has had a lot of fun, creative projects to challenge them and I help as much as I can.

Have you been able to set a flexible work from home schedule?

We have worked with each team member at my company to figure out how they can best work from home, continue to take care of our stakeholders and we have taken the extra time to consider everyone’s new additional parenting / teaching priorities. It’s important to know that every single person has a very unique situation.

How are you balancing your cancer treatment routine?

I am thankfully not currently in treatment right now and will be 13 years in remission in May of this year! But I am still fearful of my immune system and what this virus could do if I were to contract it, so we are taking every precaution possible. My advice to cancer patients balancing treatment and parenting, is try your very best to balance both, even if it means bringing your children to additional appointments. This is a temporary change in schedule and cancer will not wait for COVID-19 to subside.

How are you keeping your children entertained and while at home?

Thankfully, my wife Jaci, who was temporarily laid off due to the current economic state, has taken on an incredible teaching role and I am able to take breaks throughout the day to help with learning, entertainment, etc. There are so many amazing learning based apps currently that they are able to have fun and learn at the same time. We are also doing a lot of craft projects and working on house projects that the girls can help with.

How are you managing self-care and taking time for yourself during this difficult climate?

I have made sure to take time for more walks, yoga and our family participates in a digital fitness program that provides some structure and goals to work towards. We have been very diligent about making sure we all are staying fit and mixing up our day the best we can. This part of our daily routine benefits all of us. As a cancer survivor, my health is a nonnegotiable in terms of prioritizing.

What other words of encouragement would you share with other cancer survivors and parents right now?

Take care of your health FIRST. The financial stresses and work challenges will all return and are far less important than the mental and physical toll something like this can take on you and your family. Cancer brings along more mental uncertainty and stress on a daily basis than most people anyway so it is important to take time for you and your family. I would also recommend listening to the CDC and WHO and stay at home, stay isolated but use today’s technology to stay connected, stay involved and stay social. Most importantly, stay positive!

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society continues to provide support to blood cancer patients, their families and caregivers. Our Information Specialists can be reached by phone at 800-955-4572 by email or chat by clicking here.