I am not pining for the end of the pandemic, which makes me a bit of a weirdo among people I know, even though the end of the pandemic would be wonderful. I have been changed as a result of my cancer diagnosis, for it taught me that things can change at any moment.
I woke up the other day and checked my email and social media to find no less than five messages and posts referencing the COVID-19 pandemic and talking about how dismal or unbearable things are currently.
Every so often, friends even have made references to writing off 2020 entirely. And yet, while this may sound strange, as someone who has been living with metastatic breast cancer since late 2015, I am having a good year. I have been thinking to myself: Is it OK to say that I am having a good year amid a pandemic?
I guess you could say that my expectations are simple, focused largely on the present moment and the time until my next scan. After my last scan, I felt euphoric that the results I received were not tough news. So, on a day when friends were writing and posting about their struggles with COVID-19, the lack of normalcy, and the impact of not being able to engage in as much physical contact as in the past, all very real concerns, I found myself exuberantly feeling that my life is fantastic.
I find it to be an interesting juxtaposition, what is going on in the public sphere versus what is going on in my personal life. The truth is that, for me, at this point, it basically boils down to: Am I alive? And how do I feel physically, for example, do I have chunks of time where I feel alert and energetic and relatively free of discomfort or pain?
I decided fairly early in the pandemic that I would shelter in place until a vaccine was developed or until the virus essentially was eliminated in my city. I don’t mind wearing a mask, engaging in physical distancing, and sheltering in place because I am highly motivated to live. So, I am willing to take precautions. I am committed to continuing to take good care of myself. I chat at a safe distance with kind-hearted neighbors who keep an eye on me, wonderful friends who occasionally bring me meals, and a big-hearted sister who sometimes runs errands on my behalf.
Wearing my mask, I talk with my medical team with whom I have forged a warm connection over the more than four years that I have been in treatment.
I do not feel disconnected and I am not pining for the end of the pandemic, which makes me a bit of a weirdo among people I know, even though the end of the pandemic would be wonderful. I have been changed as a result of my cancer diagnosis, for it taught me that things can change at any moment. Deep down at a visceral level, I understand in a way that I never did before that what truly matters is what we make of each day and that simply being alive and feeling relatively well is a wondrous miracle worth celebrating.