• Waldenström Macroglobulinemia
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  • Lung Cancer
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  • MPN
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  • Rare Cancers
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  • Thyroid Cancer

Dealing With the Threat of Coronavirus as a Cancer Survivor


Having lived with the possibility of early death as a two-time cancer patient, I’m used to the coronavirus threat and all that it entails.

As an ex-cancer patient, I live with the constant fear of developing life-threatening illnesses or my cancers returning. It’s a day-to-day struggle. I’m constantly checking my skin for bumps and lumps and strange rashes, looking out for coughs that won’t go away, anticipating pains in my body that just might signal the return of the disease.

For this reason, I can’t get too excited about the possibility of getting the coronavirus. I guess I’m not afraid of contracting this illness. If I do, I’ll figure it out then.

Sure, my husband and I have taken precautions. We’ve loaded up on toilet paper (like everyone else seemingly is), hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and we’re staying out of huge crowds.

Last night, my husband remarked, “I wonder if they’ll cancel ‘Waitress.’” This Broadway show is coming to Akron, and we have tickets for it in April. It’s something I really want to see. If they don’t cancel it, we’ll show up. And if someone is coughing, I guess we’ll change seats — if we can.

Again, having and “beating” cancer has made me unafraid of other health threats.

Maybe I’m being foolish. My body’s physical immune system is most likely compromised from my two cancers and all the treatments I went through. I should be a little more afraid of this damn pandemic.

It could have something to do with my age. I’m 57. I’m getting up there. There’s a line in my favorite movie “What’s Up, Doc?” starring Barbara Streisand and Ryan O’Neil, that epitomizes my life situation. After enduring many traumatizing events, Madeline Kahn looks straight into the camera and says, “What more can they do to me?”

I tell you what, if I do get the coronavirus, being quarantined will be an absolute pain in the butt. At least with cancer, you’re not contagious. You don’t have to hide in your house for days like a leper.

What will I do all day long if I contract COVID-19? I’ll start that memoir I’ve been longing to write. Or I could buy some yarn and a crochet needle and start making afghan throws again.

Read? I’ve got bookshelves of unread books.

Bake cookies all day? Then, I’d get fatter, and that wouldn’t be good. (And it’s too early to freeze baked goods for the holidays.) I’ll have to do something to avoid going stir crazy.

I have the attitude that if it’s going to happen to someone it will happen to me.

This is because I got cancer from radiation treatments for another cancer I’d had five years earlier. My radiologist said I was one in a million; getting cancer from a treatment meant to cure you doesn’t occur very often. BUT IT HAPPENED TO ME!

Strange things happen to me. Once I was sitting on my love seat, watching television, minding my own business and a big black ant dropped down from a plant behind the couch and fell right into my eye. It stung my eyeball something fierce. That was the worst pain I’ve ever endured.

What are the chances of that?

Of course, I don’t want this virus. Who would? I want to live to be an old, well, an older lady. I’m going to continue to wash my hands, sneeze into my arm and wipe down my keyboard. I’m not stupid.

But until I test positive for COVID-19, it’s just more of the same—fearlessly waiting around for the worst to happen.

And praying for a vaccine.

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