It was midway through the third week of working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic that it really hit me &mdash; I missed my life. I even missed things that used to seem mundane like chit-chatting with my co-workers. It was too quiet, too isolated, too separate from everything I was used to. More than feeling sorry for myself, I felt a wave of realization that this is what all of the patients I work with have been talking about but have struggled to explain to me. As a patient navigator at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center &ndash; Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC &ndash; James), it is my job to learn about each patient&rsquo;s concerns and get them the help and resources they need. I&rsquo;ve talked to countless patients who are feeling this eerie loneliness. It&rsquo;s often the first thing they want to talk about, even above the resources we help provide like food, housing assistance and transportation to medical appointments. But being isolated myself somehow shifted my perspective to better understand it, to realize that no matter how hard it is for me to get through my day, it is exponentially harder for those dealing with cancer. Cancer patients have dealt with isolation long before the COVID-19 pandemic. For many, cancer becomes an individual battle that even those closest to them may not be able to understand. Now that the rest of us are having to isolate, I see communities band together. FaceTime check-ins and Zoom dinners have become part of our &ldquo;new normal.&rdquo; People are finding thoughtful ways to take care of their friends, their neighbors, even strangers, whether it&rsquo;s a care package, a kind word or a &ldquo;thank you&rdquo; to a health care worker or grocery clerk. So why is it that when someone in our lives is dealing with an illness, we find it so difficult to know how to help? Many patients I work with say that more people in their lives start dropping off the radar the further out they get from their initial diagnosis. It&rsquo;s not that they&rsquo;re doing this on purpose, and many of them probably aren&rsquo;t even aware that their support is so vital to their loved one&rsquo;s well-being. This is especially true for the patients I work with, most of whom have breast cancer. These are women who are used to taking care of themselves and their families. Asking for help is not something they&rsquo;re comfortable with, and they may feel like suffering in silence is better than burdening those they care about. This is why it is so important to keep the communication going and to not wait for someone with cancer to reach out to you first. You don&rsquo;t have to be an expert and you don&rsquo;t have to have a plan. Just being there is enough: Check in: Just a five-minute conversation or a text message can show someone you&rsquo;re thinking about them and that you care. It also opens the door for them to ask for help if they need it. In the midst of the daily grind, it&rsquo;s easy to let time pass without communication, so set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to check in and see how things are going. Talk about something else: There are so many reminders of their disease in their daily life that sometimes just calling to chat about planning your kid&rsquo;s birthday party or the latests episode of a TV show you both love can be just the break they need. It gives them a chance to be themselves when it seems their whole world is revolving around cancer. Don&rsquo;t try to solve their problems: Listening is so much more important than trying to offer advice or find solutions. It can be extremely therapeutic for patients to just cry, scream or vent to someone they trust when they are feeling overwhelmed. Brighten their day: As we all keep our distance amid COVID-19, think about all the simple things that now put a much-needed smile on your face &mdash; getting some fresh air while walking around the neighborhood or receiving a card in the mail. Small gestures and interactions mean a lot on hard days, so remember how much they meant to you during these trying times and try to provide these uplifting moments to others when they need them. As this public health crisis continues, we hear the words &ldquo;social distancing&rdquo; a whole lot. But while we are physically apart, I&rsquo;ve seen more gestures of social togetherness than I have ever experienced. Stories of hope flood in about making a remote birthday celebration special or holding up signs of encouragement from outside a hospital window. We are truly in this together, and I hope that this sentiment is carried forward into our everyday lives when this crisis subsides and that we don&rsquo;t forget about those who still need our unwavering support. As for me, I wholeheartedly believe this difficult time will help me become more in-tune with those I have the privilege to serve at the OSUCCC &ndash; James and better put myself in their shoes. If we all gain some awareness and empathy to help our friends, family, co-workers or neighbors who deal with these hardships every day, it would be an incredible blessing to come from what often seems a dark time. Sherri Smith serves as a Komen-funded patient navigator with The Mobile Mammography Units at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center &ndash; Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC &ndash; James) and Center for Cancer Health Equity. She helps patients in underserved areas gain access to vital cancer screenings and ensures timely cancer diagnosis and care, while removing barriers like language, finances and transportation. She also works with patients following a cancer diagnosis to ensure they have essentials such as housing and food, while connecting them with the many support resources at the OSUCCC &ndash; James. Get comprehensive information on COVID-19 and cancer &mdash; including important information and tips on nutrition, exercise and risk reduction &mdash; from OSUCCC &ndash; James experts.