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.
Even with an injured trust in the world, it's important to remember the lessons that help us move through cancer and other life traumas amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
I believe in God. I believe most people try to do the right thing most of the time. I still believe that even after a recent betrayal of my trust.
It was just money this time, not COVID-19. I was scammed on-line. Do most people who get scammed stay quiet about it? Perhaps out of embarrassment? I think getting scammed is a story that is good to tell so we can learn from each other’s mistakes, and yet I am embarrassed because, well, it seems like such an “old person” kind of mistake—I am 56, which in my mind puts me somewhere between young and old. In your mind, maybe I am something else.
Trying to do the right thing so other people won’t also get scammed is a long process. I wound up working my way through several people at my bank to finally get to the claims department. In turn, the claims department told me to file a report with the police, and the police, instead, sent me to the sheriff’s office where I left a message. Meanwhile, per the instructions of someone at the bank, I continued to exchange text messages with the scammer to stall the process for the authorities!
Different people at the bank later told me I did not need to do that. Ten days later the claim was closed, and I was still out my money. The short story was that what was done was done. I was fortunate it was not worse, and in the end, it was not cancer, it was only money. Then along came COVID-19. Who expected that? How can we get through it?
Grateful and gracefully? All of us have health worries and problems and we can be grateful for each day we are here. That is just how life works. I want to try to be faithful and gracious about COVID-19 and other life worries, and some days that is more difficult to do than others. I worry about my own health and about the health of my family and friends. My therapist once told me it is okay to pre-grieve, which is the term that explains my eyes filling with tears about health events that have not happened yet. Consider keeping a gratitude journal that you write in most days.
Meaningful? We want our lives to have meaning. Whether out of work, working, semi-retired, or retired, I think human beings want to serve each other. My mom helped assemble gift packages for children in her eighties while she was in assisted living. My dad was the newspaper editorial page editor-writer in our city and later, in retirement, he was a hospital volunteer. We can, and do, serve each other through our relationships with each other and the use of our talents for others.
Aging—is reality. Each day, finding joy, connecting with others, and sharing our talents matter, whether you are a cancer and/or COVID-19 survivor or not. Dwelling on aging is not productive, yet recognizing its presence to cherish each day to the maximum can be our reality. Live in the moment as much as you can.
We can have tears in our eyes, love in our hearts, and smiles on our faces at correct social distances, for each other, most days even in the face of a pandemic. Betrayals will happen. Bad days will happen. With or without cancer, we can connect (safely) with others and work our way through this together.