Coping with COVID

COVID-19: How are you dealing with it? “Change is the only thing that is constant”

The recent turn of events re: COVID-19 has impacted us all throughout this community. It poses an upheaval in our daily routine and drastic changes in the way we cope with our breast cancer survivor/thriver journey. I would be lying if I said that COVID-19 has not been the most predominant topic on my mind. Everyone is talking about it. They are tweeting about it. And in my case, I am even dreaming about it.

It is proving quite overwhelming, and I can only imagine even more so for our breast cancer community members who are immunocompromised and are at a higher risk if exposed to the virus. Controlling our treatment journey and having a set routine is our way of feeling a sense of control in our life. With COVID-19, we have been asked to uproot any sense of control and throw it out the window.

Questions to ask your oncologists

Are you going to be getting your treatments?

Is it safe to go in for the treatments?

Are my team of doctors going to be affected and if so will I be exposed to the virus because of them?

Are my medications going to be delayed?

These are some of the questions that might be crossing your mind. These are all valid and relevant. Call or email your oncology team and have them assess the situation and give you a clear contingency plan if you do not have one in place already. It is most important to be calm and have a clear head when talking to your team. Write down your questions and work your way through them when you get in contact your doctors.

Throwing ourselves into work, or creating a private space to meditate while the rest of the family is at work or school is some of the ways we gave ourselves a break from dealing with cancer treatments, setting up appointments and paying those God awful expensive bills. But that has all changed.

Right now, we must work from home, and it is hard to constantly have the entire family under the same roof 24/7! Now, the mental toll this is taking on us and will take on us, is going to be something we cannot choose to ignore. So, it is important to prioritize your mental health as well.

Being cooped up indoors all day is detrimental to your mental and physical health. You will most likely see and feel some symptoms of cabin fever (a loose term to address the condition of being isolated from society for too long). Be prepared to feel bouts of depression, irritability, and change in your diet and sleeping pattern. They all stem from boredom and overthinking. Seek counsel and voice your concerns to your family and therapist if you can. It is better to let it out, then to keep it in.

So, what can we do? Step into the sun once or twice a day for about 20 mins each time. The Vitamin D that you get will not only boost your immune system but also improve your mood. You could take a small lap around your block or step out into your patio or simply stand near the window which lets in the most sunlight. Try to engage in the activities that you have done before but from the comfort of your home like doing home workouts! You could do Tik Tok dances with your kids! Bring back old hobbies (I have started baking!) and also maybe use the time to work on that project that you may have put on the back burner.

Eating healthy can also pose to be a struggle.

The markets are being wiped out, with people panic buying, and hoarding. But, there are still options such as your local Asian supermarkets (Yes, they are fully stocked!), your local convenience store (Support local businesses!) and most restaurants are still delivering (There is a no-contact option!). It is more troublesome but in times of change, a little un-comfortability is to be expected!

The right way to address this pandemic is to act as global citizens. Each of us has a role to play in fighting this virus. Stay home, stay hygienic, and help to flatten the curve. If you are younger (the early 20s to late 30s) and see your friends not engaging in self-isolation, do your best to educate them on how they are placing you and others with preexisting conditions at risk. We have a social and moral obligation to protect our society. Keep in your prayers, the hard-working doctors and nurses who put themselves and their families at risk each day as they help combat this pandemic. Do not forget the social workers, your waste collectors, grocery store workers, janitorial staff who all are still working around the clock.

We will ride this out together and we will be the better for it at the end.

Here is a list of books for your reading consideration:

Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O’Hara

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam

The Lighthouse by PD James

Babel Tower by A.S. Byant

They are all available in PDF versions on Amazon 😊

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