As a cancer survivor, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect me and force me to miss activities — and people — I love.
I am tired, discouraged and sick of it all.
Three years ago, our governor told us everything was locked down for two weeks due to a global pandemic. It has now been close to three years. At first, we were told it would be for a few weeks, which was tolerable. Most of us took advantage of being at home to be with our families, do our hobbies and read books while supporting essential workers. In New York City, every evening at the same time, people would open their windows and cheer and applaud the men and women risking their lives for us. Remember that?
Some of us with cancer and immune disorders were fearful of poking our noses outside because of our compromised immune systems. Over a million people died and devastated families and friends. We prayed for a vaccine and thought when it arrived that it would save us.
Unfortunately, people remained unvaccinated because of not trusting the science, new variants of the original disease keep cropping up and the inevitable lifting of mask mandates kept the virus on the move. For most people, it was OK, but not for us. Year three has brought RSV virus, severe flu and more COVID-19 variants.
Slowly I have watched friends and family begin to travel, fly and take cruises, all of which my doctor advised against. Finally last May, I received permission to fly once more and had a great reunion with friends and family where my sister lives. But then, I got COVID. Consequently, three years later I am still grounded. I cannot fly to see any of my family out of state.
On the advice of my doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, I am unable to attend holiday indoor events because one person may be asymptomatic. I adored going to Christmas plays and holiday musicals. I used to take yearly cruises, but they are out of the question.
I should also mention that not only do I have a blood cancer which will never be cured and am on chemo, but have a condition called IGA deficiency, which leaves me with half of my immunity.
For Thanksgiving, I was unable to go with family and friends because of small children who are little germ bearers, and unvaccinated friends. I spent it alone.
I admit I am depressed about this entire scenario. I am no longer the least bit hopeful about year four. It has been said by scientists and people much smarter than I am that COVID will always be with us.
It is difficult to realize and process this. Honestly, if you had told me three years ago that we would still be fighting this pandemic — or now an endemic —I would not have believed you.
But I am trying to live with it. I drive instead of flying if it is not too far. I attend outdoor events when possible, although in Northeast Ohio it is not plausible now. I meet with smaller groups in their homes. I go to restaurants with just a few people at off times like 2:00 in the afternoon.
Do I like it? No of course not. But like so many other problems cancer survivors face, I am learning to live with it. After all, I do not want to keep surviving my MDS to be killed by this pesky virus. And we have all had to learn to live with a lot and appreciate being alive!
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