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Essential mom, essential worker

Although Dr. Reva Basho’s hectic schedule has been nothing short of intense, she has learned to appreciate what the pandemic has taught her family and the world.

Meet Dr. Reva Basho, an oncologist who researches advanced treatments at Cedars- Sinai Medical Center who shared her anxieties about being a mother and a doctor during the pandemic.

Dr. Reva Basho’s life has been intense during the pandemic.

She keeps her cancer patients on track for treatments that are harder to get because of limited appointments. She must always be alert and set the best example when it comes to wearing protective gear and social distancing. And on top of that, she must care for her young children and remain vigilant to ensure she doesn’t bring the virus home to her family.

“My son would spend most of the day at school where we didn’t have to worry about child care but now that he’s at home, we do — along with my younger child, who has constant needs,” said Basho, an assistant professor of medicine and a breast medical oncologist at Cedars-Sinai Cancer Center in Los Angeles. “My husband and I are continuing to work full-time while also having the kids around and having to entertain them at the house.”

Basho and her husband alternate caring for their kids, Rowan, 4, and Julie, 16 months.

During the pandemic, Dr. Basho and her husband have had to balance their full-time work while raising two growing children. (Photos by Tiffany Mankarios)

“We’re still learning but I think we’ve adapted our routine in certain ways. It’s definitely been a lot of trade-off between my husband and I,” she said.

Although Basho’s hectic schedule has been nothing short of intense, she has learned to appreciate what the pandemic has taught her family and the world.

“I think it has been such a reminder to what’s the most important thing in our lives: To relax and enjoy time with your family. That’s my biggest takeaway from this pandemic, and  I’m looking forward to seeing how the pandemic influences our long term practices in a positive way,” she said. 

At the same time, she worries about the safety of her family.

“What would happen if we were infected and the potential complications associated with it and the stress of how it would change our lives?” she said.

Basho’s concerns about safety also apply to her patients. Since cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy are immune-suppressed, they mainly do appointments by phone or video.

Dr. Basho works at her desk at Cedars-Sinai Cancer Center in Beverly Hills, California. She has had to pivot her patient care approach to protect them from COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of Vivian Salle)

This social distancing has been tough.

I am a hugger. When patients find out bad news or are dealing with the anxiety of treatment, a hug or a just a touch can go a long way in comforting them. In this pandemic, this need to socially distance and not hug or touch has been so challenging in those moments when patients are experiencing some of the toughest moments of their lives and you just can’t be there for them in the way that you normally would be.

Dr. Reva Basho

Another concern is that cancer patients have symptoms similar to those of coronavirus patients — such as fever.

“We have not allowed them in our cancer center because of the concern of potential spread. During chemotherapy, we’ve sent patients to the emergency room where they’re equipped to rapidly test for Covid,” she said. 

Vivian Salle, a registered and certified nurse in oncology, works at Cedars-Sinai. (Photo courtesy of Harumi Mankarios)

Vivian Salle, a registered and certified nurse in oncology, works alongside Basho and shared some of the precautions Cedars-Sinai takes to protect the safety of its patients and staff members.

Employees go through a screening process where their temperature is checked and they are given a fresh mask. They’re given a rapid test if they’ve been in contact with someone infected with the virus or if they’re feeling the “slightest bit ill,” Salle said.

“We put a label on our badge that lets everyone know that we’ve been through the screening process,” she said. “Our masks are on all day long unless we’re taking a sip of water or we’re eating our lunch. We’re constantly washing our hands and putting on hand [sanitizer]. We keep our distance from each other and our workspaces are separated appropriately.”

Salle, a charge nurse, said it’s better to be safe.

“We just treat everybody as if they have it and that just reminds you of what you need to do to prevent getting it and also spreading it,” she said.

Basho agrees with that approach: “I wish that, as a society, we could all band together and commit to really limiting this virus and wearing masks and truly social distancing so that we can find a way to go back to some normalcy in our life.”

Dr. Reva Basho plays with her kids, Rowen and Julie, in Los Angeles on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Basho)

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By Tiffany Mankarios

Tiffany Mankarios is an incoming senior at California State University, Long Beach where she is studying communication studies and journalism. When she’s not reporting for the community newspaper Culver City Observer, tutoring students learning Japanese, teaching recreational cheerleading for underprivileged kids, or volunteering virtually for L.A. Works, you can find her at the beach tanning away. She plans on pursuing a master’s degree in journalism with hopes of becoming a professional news anchor.