As a Cancer Survivor, the COVID-19 Omicron Variant Makes Me Want to Scream

Each time a new COVID-19 variant takes the world by storm, cancer survivors struggle to cope with the resulting exhaustion and fear, one survivor explains.

Here it is, December 2021, and another COVID-19 variant is on the horizon. I feel like screaming, kicking and exploding. We as a population are tired, exhausted and weary. Since early 2020, our lives have been turned upside down.

We have been locked down, afraid to go anywhere, forced to give up trips and vacations and unable to see cherished family members. Even worse, some of us have lost our jobs and income, been terribly ill and are experiencing long-lasting symptoms of COVID-19. Many of us have lost loved ones to COVID-19 — I just lost a loved one recently when we hoped the worst had passed.

Cancer survivors have also been through a wringer. We went for treatments during lockdowns. We are more terrified than most of becoming ill, because of compromised immune systems. Those of us who were forced to be hospitalized overnight and had serious treatments could not bring family or friends in with us.

We all hoped the magic of a vaccine would take our lives back to where they were before. Normalcy was our goal.

The scientists worked night and day to find the vaccines and developed them in record time. But the variants keep attacking, and now researchers have to work nonstop to stay ahead of this monster of a pandemic.

I am profoundly deaf and masks are a nightmare for me. I believe strongly in using them, but am slowly beginning to realize I may have to struggle with them for the rest of my life.

I do what I always do when so stressed — turn to good feelings and happy Hallmark movies. One evening I was watching “Nantucket Noel,” and a quote from the movie hit home.

“Your destiny is like a sailboat at sea. You can steer it left or right or in any direction you lie. But the wind will always take you where you are supposed to be.”

The entire world is on this journey. We have seen horrible tragedies and wonderful positives, such as the greatness of our frontline workers, churches, temples and individual people stepping up to feed the hungry. The reaching out we have done to family and friends has been amazing. We also found the benefits of slowing down and spending time with family.

Cancer and COVID-19 together have taught us a lesson. The problem for me is I think I have control. I need to be reminded that we can only control our own emotions and steer the boat, but where we end up depends on the wind.

Maybe we are moving to a gentler and better world in which we will learn to live with our divisiveness and differences. We do not know where the wind is taking us and that is a scary feeling.

Later in the movie, another reminder comes. “Sometimes you have to let go and let the wind guide you.” The difference this time is that we are all in the same boat and waiting for the winds of change to direct us to our final goal.

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