Coping with disease and disability in the time of coronavirus

(CNN)Sassy Outwater-Wright has fought off cancer three times in the last 33 years, losing most of her eyesight to a rare form of the disease at the age of three.

And now, at age 37, she's fighting a fourth cancer -- this time in her brain.
As a result, Outwater-Wright is no stranger to navigating the byzantine corridors of the healthcare system, and she guides others who've lost their sight in her role as executive director of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
    As someone who relies on touch to navigate the world, the potential threats to her existence have multiplied now that the novel coronavirus might be waiting on the next door knob or window sill.
      In the midst of the pandemic, those who live with disability or contend with a chronic illness are now at a double disadvantage.
      Home deliveries of goods are much harder to arrange, even if stores have what people need in stock. And leaving the home for each life-sustaining visit to a doctor to treat a condition begins to feel like playing Russian roulette.

      'You're forced to face your own mortality'

        "It's terrible to have cancer in the time of corona," Outwater-Wright said. "I still have to go to the hospital for my conditions. Each time, we're putting our health and the lives of our loved ones at risk."
        She worries that she could be exposed to coronavirus if she see a healthcare worker who's seen 20 other patients that day, one of whom could be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus.
        And she worries where her brain tumor diagnosis might place her on the triage list if she contracts Covid-19 and needs a ventilator.
        In some hospitals, doctors must find ways of identifying which patients are should be prioritized for the scarce number of ventilators available. One increasingly used system for doing that -- developed by Dr. Douglas White, a professor of critical care medicine at the University of Pittsburgh -- operates under two larger sets of criteria: save the most lives and save the most number of life years the patient is expected to have should they receive treatment and survive.
        Outwater-Wright welcomes blind Boston Marathon runners and their guides at a dinner for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
        When looking at the number of life years a patient may have left, this point system would de-prioritize patients with medical conditions associated with a life expectancy of less than one year and less than five years.
        These guidelines don't discriminate against those living with disabilities, so Outwater-Wright's visual impairment doesn't make her less eligible for a