How Cancer Helps Me Fight Coronavirus

April 7, 2020

For once, I'm noticing a new role of cancer in my life as the survival skills I've picked up are helping me persevere through a global pandemic.

Cancer taught me quickly about the fragility of life.

It's a harsh, bitter pill to swallow, but after enough time you get used to it. Well, to be honest, you don't have much choice because once you notice that you can't control everything, it's almost easier to let go and roll with the punches. And soon enough, you start to view life from more of a macro lens, realizing that the world doesn't just revolve around you.

Looking back, I found this to be an important reality check because so many other places we turn our needs can be met with immediate satisfaction.

Not happy with your grocery situation? Seamless is just a click away! Why bother dating when there's Tinder? And boredom? Don't even give it a second thought. Not with Instagram, Twitter or Netflix ready and willing to entertain. But there's no app or service that can instantly save you from cancer. It's a draining and terrifying journey that forces you to dig deep and tap into a source of inner strength that you'd always hoped was there but maybe hadn't needed to test before. Managing fear, the unknown, isolation and loss of control are extremely important skills that aren't taught in school. Somewhere along the way, you're just expected to pick up these coping mechanisms on your own. And for once, I'm grateful that as a result of fighting cancer, I've had a good deal of training.

A few years back over summer holiday weekends, while the rest of the world traveled and partied, I was building up endurance for quarantine life by passing the time slowly, and dully, at the hospital. And later on, while healing from home on medical leave, I had to come up with healthy outlets for all the anxiety and isolation that has a way of stalking cancer fighters, especially those with too much time to think.

During every scan, I've had to lean into my inner Zen, working tirelessly to maintain sanity while waiting on results that could change my life in a million different ways. And on multiple occasions when I received awful news, I then had to find the balance of resetting expectations while still maintaining optimism. My wife and I have had to learn how to communicate through love and support always and at all costs, even when completely frustrated when it would have been easy to use the nearest person as a verbal punching bag.

Part of the deal with cancer is accepting that you never have enough answers or resources. Sometimes it gets to be too much and completely wears you down, but it also forces you to appreciate the magic in each day. I find that the best moments are when I'm fully immersed in the present. All year, I've blogged about this and everything else that's helped me fight cancer - from books, music and movie scenes that have inspired me, to conversations and personal experiences that have made me stronger.

Now, for once, I'm noticing a new role of cancer in my life as the survival skills I've picked up are helping me persevere through a global pandemic.


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