“I’m not going to give up on that just because of this pandemic. Health is most important, as it should be for us cancer survivors.”
With this COVID-19 crisis, I was initially riddled with anxiety. I thought, “Oh my gosh, I have on kidney. My kidney function is lower than everybody else. There is renal failure in this disease. Here we go again.”
What can I control? The environment around me. We had a talk with my family — I have a 21-year-old and a 17-year-old – and we all sat down, knowing the importance of washing your hands, and wearing scarves or masks or whatever we had here at home if you’re going to go out, and doing your best to try to keep this out of the home.
It is an extra layer. On March 17, the day I got my last CAT scan, the hospital closed for all unnecessary CAT scans that day. I looked on Instagram, and there are some people who are struggling without even being able to have surgery done at this time.
This is a very stressful time. It is unprecedented and my heart goes out to them, because how fortunate are we, if looking at what we can be grateful for during these times. If we’re getting our surgeries, if we’re getting our treatment, we should be grateful.
There was a small period where things were getting rescheduled as far as what I can see, and surgeries are coming back on slowly and being scheduled for May. But it’s just an added layer of stress for us cancer survivors.
What if I go into the hospital? I have a picture of myself, what I look like going into the hospital (with) gloves, masks. We laugh, but it really is this era now. Life is different and adapting to it without panic and hoping that our family understands.
I don’t know other people’s scenarios, but for me it was important that the family understood that it does affect us differently, especially those of us on immunotherapy. I am not on it myself, but I have friends who are.
You have to be extremely cautious. Even with the smallest virus or pathogen, we just have to behave like that right now and that’s ok.
It’s difficult even trying to stay healthy during this time. I’ve found that the grocery stores are different. I go in and I try to get some nice vegetables and half of the stuff isn’t there and we have to make do.
It’s easy for our brains to go and panic. I feel that during this time, it’s extremely important that we reach out to our friends via Skype or Facetime, and share with the people closest to us about how we feel — the stress. Not to make it sound like victimhood, but us cancer survivors, it is a little more stressful. And it should be. We should be careful and watch for ourselves a little bit more than someone who has two kidneys, are able-bodied, not on immunotherapy.
It’s important that the people around us and love us understand. And that they handle any precaution seriously.
We’re going to get through this. Us cancer survivors, we’ll be good. We have to also be mindful that this is also going to pass. This isn’t forever. And if we have to adapt a new way, we will. We just have to slowly see what’s happening. Every week is different.
For me, I like to do things socially with friends — working out or going out – and we’ve just been seeing everyone just like everyone else is doing. I’ve been trying to work out in my home. I have some dumb bells now. And I’m doing what I can at home to stay healthy.
I’m not going to give up on that just because of this pandemic. Health is most important, as it should be for us cancer survivors.
Check out Salima’s first vlog titled, “Taking Control Over a Cancer Diagnosis.”