If you have been following my blog regularly, you are aware that I’ve lost a lot in the past couple years:
Last winter, I lost loved ones to death.
Last June, I lost my appendix in a much needed appendectomy.
In February, I lost my breast to a mastectomy (but yay, it was so I could lose a tumor).
In March, I lost a lot of eggs, but it was to preserve my fertility as a cancer patient. Simultaneously, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, March was a time that I lost a lot of direct contact with friends who were doing chores and errands for me during my recovery from my mastectomy.
As you could imagine, I’ve lost money to medical bills that accompanied my unanticipated cancer diagnosis. I also lost income by taking a leave from work.
Photo from Flickr
I may have lost some other things, but those are the major losses that come to mind.
Last Saturday, in The Stories That Don’t Make Headlines, I shared an old friend’s experience in a California ER during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today we are switching gears from the West Coast to the East Coast. I am sharing the experience of my other friend, whose office is based in New York City and who is currently working remotely.
She and I did a Q&A. After reading the transcript of it, I related to her experience in three ways:
- The stress of observing others who do not take precautions in public: As a breast cancer patient, I too get stressed when others do not practice social distancing and other recommended public health measures.
- The annoyance of not having your typical outlets for self-care: What do you do when your usual suspects for coping, relaxation, and entertainment are no longer safe? I’m still figuring that one out.
- The frustration of family planning being put on hold: Although I am not trying to have a family this minute, both cancer and this pandemic are not making it easy for me to have babies.
What part of this interview is relatable for you?
Photo from Flickr
When I was a sophomore in college, I took a social issues theatre class. I was the youngest person in it. Everyone else was a junior or senior. A couple of them were even nontraditional students (in this context, adult learners), and one of them already had a kid. That wasn’t a norm at my Big Ten school, where students ages 18-22 were the standard for undergrads.
It was an intimate class. There were less than 10 of us, and that was atypical for a public university with tens of thousands of students. I liked it because I got to know everyone by name. Given the themes of the course and the class size itself, we were able to engage in profound discussions that I didn’t normally have in lectures with hundreds of classmates.
Image from Flickr
One of the people I got to know in the social issues theatre course was Lawrence Haynes. I performed in one of the plays he wrote for class. Generally, I found him to be a warm, welcoming, and introspective person. He was kind to everyone.
He graduated the same year we took social issues theatre together, but we stayed connected through Facebook, which was relatively new at the time.
If you’ve kept up with my blog in the past few months, you know I’ve been juggling many thoughts, emotions, and decisions related to these events:
- Being diagnosed with breast cancer as a young adult
- Going through breast cancer treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic
Mainly, I’ve been sharing what my diagnosis and what this pandemic mean for my current life. The truth is I don’t have complete clarity at this moment, but I can tell you what I am learning from this process of discernment.
Image from Flickr
When I was a kid, I grew up being pro-life. It’s not a shocker for someone who grew up in a conservative Christian family and attended Christian schools from Pre-K to 8th grade.
Although I later changed my label to pro-choice (I don’t quite remember if it happened in high school or college), my actual attitudes and beliefs toward family planning didn’t change. I had lots of compassion for women who had to figure out if they should raise their child, put their child up for adoption, or abort the child. As both a pro-life and pro-choice advocate at different times in my life, I wanted to focus on improving systems to support mothers and children. When I was a pro-lifer, I didn’t get why some pro-lifers shamed mothers in these situations without holding the fathers accountable. (I now know that the reasons are patriarchy, sexism, and misogyny.)
In retrospect, I realize that being a pro-lifer during my childhood and early teen years caused me to research adoption more. By the time I was in high school, I was determined to adopt a kid with or without a spouse when I was older.
Image from Flickr
As an adult, I had a few partners where the conversations of family planning came up. Although I was interested in having biological children, I posed the idea of adoption to my partners. Some were more receptive than others.
During my twenties, I took great offense when one of my exes said we could adopt as long as we had our “own children.” I strongly expressed to him that any child of ours—adopted or not—would be our “own children.” He was a sweet guy, but eventually I broke up with him for other important reasons not related to family planning.