If I were to describe my life now, I would say I’m on an island. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have to be cautious when I wander in public. I look outside of my windows, and I see people walking on the streets and riding in cars. On any given day, people are using different levels of caution with masks, social distancing, exercising, shopping, and hanging out at the beach.Continue reading
Six days ago, I went on a long walk to the beach and green space in my community. Consistently, I was frustrated by the people not wearing a mask or social distancing when they came near me. I vented my frustrations in an online group for breast cancer survivors and wrote this:Continue reading
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?
Many of you know that I’m a cancer patient. I felt a lump in my breast December 10th and was diagnosed on December 19th. My life hasn’t been the same since.
I had my mastectomy on February 24th, which was the same week that the Biogen meeting screwed over Boston with COVID-19 infections. That news didn’t become public until later—after I already had been to follow-up appointments at five medical institutions with no extra precaution against the virus.
From March 11th onward, I saw different medical institutions change their protocol with intake for patients and visitors. The procedures change daily as new information arises.
I had my egg retrieval on March 19th. I was ordered to be monitored by someone for 24 hours after the procedure. I was told this took priority over any call for social distancing. Two friends took shifts in caring for me in their homes. Each had a spare room where I stayed and had next to no contact with them.
Below is a picture of my breakfast in my spare room at one friend’s house on March 20th, the day after my egg retrieval. A few hours after I ate this breakfast, I got a call from one hospital stating that I had been briefly exposed to a healthcare worker, who later tested positive for COVID-19.
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.
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.