Barbara Tako is a breast cancer survivor (2010), melanoma survivor (2014) and author of Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools—We'll Get You Through This. She is a cancer coping advocate, speaker and published writer for television, radio and other venues across the country. She lives, survives, and thrives in Minnesota with her husband, children and dog. See more at www.cancersurvivorshipcopingtools.com,or www.clutterclearingchoices.com.
We have all had times in our lives where everything goes wrong at once. We got through them, and we continue to get through them.
My husband and I cautiously venture out. Sometimes we sit inside a mostly empty restaurant-bar and at other times we sit outside at another restaurant-bar. This is our first two times “out” in quite some time because of COVID-19. Some people are doing the same and others are continuing to cautiously wait at home. Everyone worriedly watches and listens to the nationwide events happening. We each make our own choices based on our personal health, location, and other unique circumstances.
We as cancer survivors and we as the whole world get to learn a “new normal.” “New normal” has never been a phrase I liked as a cancer survivor, and I don’t like it in a pandemic during these troubled times. I feel like it is important to acknowledge, grieve, and try to be our best selves moving forward.
Keep your hope
I don’t have answers. I am trying to listen, absorb, and process. I sometimes feel dismayed and depressed and anxious by the pandemic, racism and violence. I wonder what kind of world we are leaving to the next generation and then shame creeps in, shame for not praying more and for not doing more. Whatever actions I take, I will not let them be based on anxiety, fear, or shame. I will keep hope.
Give yourself time
Time will help heal, just like it does after cancer, and change will happen. I want my actions to be based on hope and love. I am an opinion of one, still I dare to strongly encourage people to turn to their belief system and their higher beliefs and values right now.
Make the effort
Stay positive. Sometimes it is hard to be our best selves for the people around us. It can be especially hard when you also must deal with cancer. Cancer alone can create a fearful and anxious situation. Life can be hard based on your relationships, housing, or employment circumstances. People had troubles before, during, and after these troubling world events and managed to get through them. We will get through too.
Turn to the light
Appreciate the sun. That can be hard based on where you live. Midwesterners get 12 weeks of summer. In other areas of the country, the season of temperate weather may or may not run a little longer. We put up with cold, ice, snow, and countless gray cloudy days in anticipation of a brief but gorgeous summer. We managed to get through summer at a safe distance. Fall can be beautiful too.
What is a safe distance? We choose to wear masks and stay at a safe distance not just for ourselves but for our health-compromised loved ones and our health-compromised strangers. We all crave a return to normal.
Keeping all of us safe and sane is going to be a challenge. I believe in all of us. I believe most people want to do the right thing most of the time. We have all had times in our lives where everything goes wrong at once. We got through them, and we continue to get through them.
Life is change. Now we have had many things go wrong at once on a worldwide scale. Sometimes that happens. We can try to suspend harshness and criticism and judgment with each other. The only constant in life is change. We can learn from our mistakes. We will get through this. Things will change and hopefully we can each help as we cautiously venture out.