How Soon We Forget

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A cancer survivor shares the valuable lessons she learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, almost six months after receiving her vaccination.

I was watching a medical show on television recently where the scenes were flipping back and forth from the present to the past. One unforgettable scenario was January 2021. The staff at the hospital were laughing, cheering and dancing as they all received their precious vaccinations.

It is now July 2021. I realized with a shock that this date was only 6 months ago! I received my first vaccine in February and told the pharmacist I had never looked forward so much to one shot!

I realized, however, that I have already become complacent. I had forgotten the thrill of feeling that precious freedom of being able to socialize again. On the wonderful Fourth of July, I had been able to celebrate with family and friends again. I reflected on a year ago, when I was by myself, and thought of how being with people I loved was special.

We cannot afford to forget. The variant is raging and that is unfortunate. Those of us who have been fully vaccinated need to be cautious while enjoying our newfound freedom.

I swore if things ever returned to normal, I would not forget the tough lessons of the pandemic. I know I learned some important lessons from COVID-19. One of the most compelling is the ability to entertain myself and not to be on the go every minute. I also appreciate my family and friends more than ever. However, in five months I have failed to remember how awful it was. I need to practice gratitude every day for being able to go out with people I enjoy, attend church, go shopping and eat out.

Cancer survivors also can be guilty of forgetting how lucky we are. Some have been officially “cured” with no evidence of disease. I sense a new appreciation of life with them, but wonder if they remember what it is like to be so sick and how fortunate they are. I know I am thankful I am in remission, but tend to forget those dark days of chemo that changed my body and stole my hearing.

I do not mean we should dwell on a dark and awful past, but neither should we dismiss those times. We need to practice gratitude every minute. Whether it is surviving a pandemic, cancer, or another horrible loss, we are celebrating being alive right now, today.

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