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Cancer survivor's public plea: Heed warnings about social distancing during Coronavirus crisis

The decisions the rest of us make during this crisis could have devastating consequences for people like Mike Racey.

An Upper Arlington family is making an emotional plea during the coronavirus crisis: heed the warnings about staying inside and distancing yourself from others.

Mike Racey beat cancer last year, but the coronavirus outbreak threatens his life once again.

And the actions the rest of us take, could help him survive, or not.

It was December 2018 that 10TV last spoke to Nicolle Racey. Her husband Mike was fighting for his life against leukemia, a cancer of the blood.

She spoke of the devastation rippling through their family, including their two sons, and the miraculous ray of hope that came from bone marrow donor in another country.

"What he doesn't know across the pond is we were praying for this, and he gave us hope, that there would be an opportunity for Mike to be cured of this," she said at the time.

Fifteen months later, Mike is out of the hospital. The cancer is gone. The transplant worked.

But now his family lives in fear of a new threat: coronavirus.

"I'm struggling for words to describe this because this is new for everyone," Mike said. "But for me, it's like, okay, I had cancer, I'm a cancer survivor. I got through treatment, I'm recovering. Hey, I can do all this stuff now. And all the sudden I have to go back and hide myself in my house because this thing could kill me."

Because Mike's immune system remains compromised, his body doesn't have the ability to fight the virus.

"I just had an appointment last Thursday with my treatment team. And I said, 'So about this Corona thing- and they looked me right in the eye and said, 'Stay away from people- all people.' Now I'm pretty much on quarantine. I'm not sick, but I'm basically inside."

And so is the rest of his family. Nicolle has been able to work from home, only venturing out for necessities like food.

"I'm healthy enough that if I were to get it, I would probably be okay. But that's not the point. The point is- if I were to get it, I would infect him. And he could die from it."

"It's huge risk that kind of cascades onto their whole family," said Dr. Alfred Vargas, Chief of Medical Oncology with OhioHealth. Vargas says that's why the choices the rest of us make during this crisis, could have devastating consequences for others.

"You may not know you're sick with the disease, or you may not be sick with the disease. But you may carry it. And you could easily pass it on unintentionally- totally unintentionally," Vargas said. "And so our best bet is to maintain social distance, give each other the space, not congregate too closely, because there could be a chain of people who are asymptomatic, and spread it."

"Not that you want to judge people," said Nicolle. "Everyone's going to make their own decisions, but when I see stuff on social media and on tv where people are still gathering...I would just say to anyone- don't think of just yourself, think of us as a community, and look out for one another."

"It was one thing for me to be battling cancer," said Mike. "Now like the whole world is battling something that could end my life. And I really hope people take it seriously- that everything you do to help that, will literally save lives."