Dr. Rachel Brem is a survivor.
The Washington, D.C., physician was diagnosed with breast cancer at 37 and went through chemotherapy. At age 61, she’s now recovering from COVID-19 and sharing her story with others to warn about how serious it is.
Brem, who is Director of Breast Imaging and Intervention at George Washington University Hospital, said the virus symptoms hit her in early March. She had shaking, chills, intense muscle pain, gastrointestinal distress and a complete lack of a sense of smell.
"Although I've had flu before, surgery before, I've had chemotherapy — I've never experienced anything quite like this," she said.
Brem was diagnosed March 12 and was the second person found to have the virus in Baltimore County, Maryland.
"The scariest [symptom] is without a doubt the shortness of breath," she said.
Brem managed her pain and fever with acetaminophen, rest and fluids. It took her at least two weeks to feel better.
She is now awaiting results from her latest test, which she hopes will confirm that she’s no longer sick and can get back to work.
She’s dedicated her life to helping women with breast cancer, and she’s the founder of the Brem Foundation, which promotes early detection and education around the cancer. She’s now using resources from the organization to help people who are being treated for COVID-19.
To lessen your chances of getting coronavirus, practice social distancing and wash your hands often and well, Brem said.
She still doesn’t know how she caught the virus.