COVID-19 is Stealing Precious Time from Cancer Survivors

August 15, 2020

Precious time, which we cancer survivors know is fleeting, is flying by and we all feel robbed.

I think one of the hardest things for cancer survivors to realize about the coronavirus pandemic is that it is stealing precious time from us.

My cancer is not curable, and I was given a certain number of years to live by my insensitive first oncologist. Fortunately, I have passed that time frame, but know I am living on borrowed time. Even the survivors who have been declared cancer-free for years tell me the fear is always there whether the disease will come back or not.

Will it migrate to another part of the body? Do we have a predisposition to another type of cancer? Most of us have lingering side effects that never disappear and remind us of our bout with cancer.

Each of us copes with the news of cancer in their own way. I decided to celebrate and live every day to the fullest. I took trips and I partied. I was 59 when diagnosed and I decided to have more than 100 people come to my townhouse to celebrate my 60th birthday, because I wasn’t sure if I’d reach 70.

I started taking cruises and fulfilling lifetime dreams of visiting Alaska, Scandinavia, Canada, and Barcelona! I spent lots of time with friends. My family was mostly out of state, so I flew frequently to St. Louis, Boston, and Las Vegas to visit them.

But slowly, cancer began to take away parts of my life. I was forced to retire from two jobs that I loved. I was no longer able to go to games to watch my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes, because of the walking and long days. Finances forced me to downsize to a smaller place.

But I adapted by taking cruises and going on side excursions that did not require much walking. I drove to see friends and stayed overnight. I visited nearby Amish country frequently and went out to dinner several times a week with friends. Life was good.

Then, without warning, COVID-19 hit. And in an instant, all our lives drastically changed. My sister kept saying, “I am older, and it is taking precious time away from me to visit my son and family since they live out of state.”

And, I agree with her wholeheartedly. Now I can no longer take cruises. I cannot fly to see my relatives. Instead of leisurely dinners inside with friends I love, I am distancing outside on lawns and patios. I was planning a large 70th birthday party at my church, but not anymore. I keep saying I will celebrate my 71st.

I realize I have it so much better than most people, because I have food in my stomach and a roof over my head. I do not have to make the difficult decision about educating my children at home or sending them to school. I thank God every day that I am in remission for now.

Still, I feel cheated. I think if we are honest, we all do. Precious time, which we cancer survivors know is fleeting, is flying by and we all feel robbed.

I think we need to realize it is OK to be sad and sometimes even bitter. I do not apologize for that. I am hopeful shortly a vaccine or medical intervention will allow us once again to fly, travel, and be together without fear. We can never get that time back but think what a celebration we can have when we finally can do the things we miss so much!


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