The Cancer Community Welcomes ‘The Big V’

It’s time to smile and give thanks as people can start to emerge from their bunkers to rejoin society now that there are multiple COVID-19 vaccines, writes one cancer survivor.

From the very first day of our cancer diagnosis, fear rises in our chest and we feel like our heart will burst. Overwhelmed, our thoughts immediately turn to health and family and the palpable feeling we may be dying.

But there, latent, lies a powerful antidote to all this negative energy — hope. We just have to learn how to tap into it.

Perfect case in point: The COVID-19 vaccine, which I affectionately call “The Big V.”

When Fear Ran Rampant

With millions of shots going into our arms, it’s hard to recall a year ago when fear gripped the cancer community with the arrival of COVID-19. We felt so exposed, our immune systems so compromised that we could only cower in our homes and shudder to think we would become infected. The middle of March 2020 looked surreal and felt sinister from the vantage point of our cocoons.

“The Big C” had for the moment become overshadowed by an even “Bigger C”: the notorious COVID-19.

In those early, frightening days we could not have imagined that our “super-spreader” world would ever bring us anything but illness and death with no end in sight. In short, we were terrorized that we would contract this wicked new disease and be left to die alone in the hospital.

Hope Arrived Triumphantly

Yet, public health officials reassured us that the cavalry was on its way in the form of life-saving vaccinations. That ray of hope was often dimmed by those who opposed sensible mitigation measures, such as masks and social distancing. But we in the cancer community were good soldiers in this prolonged campaign of patience and compliance.

A significant turning point arrived in late 2020 when the frail and neglected residents of nursing homes and their care teams began to get vaccinated. We still heard caution from public health officials about the new COVID-19 variants imbedding themselves in our communities, so our struggle is not over, but the outlook is decidedly sunnier.

Out of Our Bunkers

So now, with spring upon us, we can relax and emerge from our bunkers to rejoin society. When fully vaccinated, we can even plan for family get-togethers on Independence Day and schedule a long-delayed hug-a-thon with precious loved ones.

It’s time to smile and offer thanks to the scientists and pharmaceutical companies for pulling out all the stops to produce these vaccines. It’s time to take a deep breath, our hearts full of gratitude and relief.

Here’s to better days ahead!

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