The other day, I tried to find an old post of mine on Facebook in which I mentioned MLK. I didn’t find what I was seeking, but I found another instead. Strangely enough, this post does not mention Martin Luther King, Jr., MLK, or any variation of his name, but the powers of Facebook pulled it up for me anyway. This is a post from November 10, 2016.
The post received 24 likes and five loves, 11 comments, and one share.
In one of the comments, my friend wrote, “This is worthy of a Medium post.”
Three weeks ago, in The Stories That Don’t Make Headlines, I shared an old college friend’s visit to a California ER during the time of COVID-19.
Then in Tell Me About Yourself: When Family Planning Is Put on Hold, I told you the story of another friend’s delayed fertility treatment due to the growth of the pandemic in the New York City area where she lives.
Since then, I reached out to my friend who lives in Iowa. I was curious to learn how much her life has changed as someone who resides in a small Midwestern town, which is nowhere near any current epicenter of the Coronavirus.
Unlike the first two people I mentioned, she has noticed more benefits in her life since this pandemic started. She is well aware of how this is different from many other people’s stories and is upfront about that fact.
Since she told me how her life has become more convenient, I have heard from other friends who have made similar comments. Of course, nobody wants this virus to continue; however, several have confided in me that their forced lifestyle changes due to the pandemic have compelled them to reevaluate how they approached their life prior to COVID-19 and how they want to seize each day moving forward.
How has the Coronavirus made you reevaluate your life?
Photo from Flickr
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
Yesterday morning, I went on Facebook to post in a support group for young breast cancer patients and survivors. I got connected to this group Young Survival Coalition at the recommendation of another survivor shortly after I was diagnosed. After reading the website, I signed up for their Facebook group as soon as I realized they had one.
Since I joined the online group, I’ve mostly read other people’s stories, comments, questions, fears, and victories in their battles with breast cancer. Sometimes their fears have amplified mine, but their hopes also have given me hope when mine felt low.
As a newbie to breast cancer, I got to learn about terminology, resources, and other issues that I otherwise wouldn’t have known had I not joined that online group. More knowledge can be both disconcerting and comforting; therefore, I have to be very mindful of how I interact with the page. Overall though I find the benefits to outweigh any discomfort I feel from reading patients’ and survivors’ challenges and fears. We all need an outlet to share our unfiltered thoughts, and that forum serves that purpose.
This online support group for young breast cancer survivors is the opposite of content that I find highly annoying online, and that content is inspiration porn.
Photo from Flickr
There’s nothing like inspiration porn to make me roll my eyes, especially as I undergo cancer treatment during the global pandemic known as COVID-19, or the Coronavirus.
More than a month and a half after I received my breast cancer diagnosis, I attended a support group for women who had all types of cancer. During the latter part of the session, a breast cancer survivor introduced herself and wanted to find out what brought me to the group. After learning that I was newly diagnosed with breast cancer, she gave me her contact information and offered to talk to me further about resources.
Within a few days, I emailed her, and we were able to talk on the phone a day later. She shared her story with me, outlined the challenges she faced, and provided advice for my next steps.
“Get a Keurig, ” she told me. I almost told her that I was a tea drinker, but I was intrigued by her specific recommendation. I asked her why she suggested a Keurig. Then she explained that people could serve themselves when they visited me. I wouldn’t have to worry about serving them.
Photo from Flickr
Something about her recommendation sat with me in a funny way. I couldn’t put my finger on why. Then it occurred to me how much she had thought about serving other people when she had been the one in dire need during her recovery.
A few months ago, if you had asked me to describe my life, I would’ve told you I was busy: busy transitioning to a new job, busy preparing a presentation for a conference, busy managing social media and moderating a panel for a board I am on, busy networking, busy hanging out with friends, busy dating (or deciding not to date), busy going to the gym (or deciding not to go to the gym), busy going to yoga, busy napping … busy … busy …. busy.
Now when I say I’m busy, I really mean it. Seriously, my life a few months ago felt like such luxury. I had many projects, tasks, and activities to manage, but I loved it all. I really LOVED my life. I really loved myself. When friends were asking me for life updates, I told them that I was the coolest person I knew. I meant that both seriously and not so seriously.
For friends who had known me a long time, they knew that I had gone through my share of unexpected adventures with job transitions, promotions at work and volunteering as a hotline counselor for a rape crisis center, relationship changes, deaths and health issues among people close to me, and my own health issues even before breast cancer.
People are used to me persisting. In some ways, I wonder if that’s why it’s hard for some individuals to understand how concerned I am about the future.
Years ago, I was cycling between unemployed and underemployed for almost a year. Grant-funded job, unemployed, part-time job, temp job. I had every job, but one that was full-time with benefits despite my best job search efforts.
During that period, I saw a therapist. When I told her that I had to stop seeing her due to financial constraints, she insisted that I pay her on a sliding scale. I did that for a while. At a certain point, I started to wonder if I could make the sliding scale payment. Then I told her that the sliding scale payment was no longer feasible; therefore, I would stop meeting with her. She replied that I could start having appointments with her without having to pay the copay.
Photo from Flickr
During one of those therapy sessions, I reflected on my financial situation and wondered if I would ever end up doing a fundraiser on GoFundMe like I saw one of my former colleagues doing online. Apparently, that former colleague had hit such hard financial times that she shared her GoFundMe campaign on social media. In her post, she explained how much she had to swallow her pride to do what she needed for her family. I respected that. As I explained her situation to my therapist, I could see her eyes get wide. She looked shocked and appalled. That is when I decided to drop the topic.
I’m no stranger to promoting self-care. On this blog, I’ve discussed how to Start Your Day on a Positive Note, Real Self-Care When Your Life Isn’t Paradise, Dealing with Long-Term Stress, and how to Make Over Your Life … Gradually. These posts address how minor and major actions can have a cumulative effect on how you can survive and thrive through hardship.
Self-care is a process, not a product.
When I haven’t discussed self-care, I’ve told you all to Create More Space for Kindness and Don’t Forget About the World Around You. In those posts, it was about creating more space to care for others and cultivate change in the world.
My past posts haven’t talked explicitly about community care—specifically community care for yourself.
In the Mashable article Self-care isn’t enough. We need community care to thrive., Heather Dockray states, “Unlike self-care, community care does not place the onus of compassion on a single individual … Community care involves more than one person. It can include two, three, or possibly hundreds of people. You can practice community care in your personal offline life or even in digital spaces.”