Isolation or Blessing?

COVID-19. Coronavirus. Stay-at-home. Shelter-in-place. Quarantine. These are terms that most of us have either never heard of or ever believed would directly impact us. Yet, these are now the daily “terms” of our lives. 

The global pandemic has forced whole countries to isolate themselves from other countries. Within our own country, each state has made its own “isolated” decisions on how best to protect its citizens from this horrific coronavirus. In some cases, states have even isolated themselves physically by screening incoming interstate travelers at its borders. And, now, most of us have been mandated to stay at home, with the hopes of flattening the statistical curves. 

So, how does this affect those of us who are cancer thrivers or survivors? 

Isolation or blessing? I can’t speak for all of my fellow brothers and sisters living with cancer, but I can provide you perspective from my own little world. 

I’m living with metastatic terminal cancer. My journey has included chemotherapy infusion, radiation therapy, liver chemoembolization, and ongoing oral chemotherapy, along with a plethora of other supportive medications to manage the various side effects. With all of these toxic therapies, my immune system has taken a beating (not to mention, my hair). Given that, I’ve had to self-quarantine for weeks at a time from friends, family, gatherings, workouts, and other activities. Sound familiar? 

Throughout my cancer journey, while I missed directly interacting with others and enjoying a more active lifestyle, I made peace with having to adjust my sails and find other ways to keep me mentally, physically, and emotionally content. I’ve read more, played brain-games and puzzles, created my own at-home workouts, and kept in good contact with friends, family, and colleagues by phone, email, or text. Again, sound familiar? 

What I’m trying to communicate here is that, while our lives have changed to a new normal, ironically, I feel blessed that my cancer journey has prepared me for these weeks and months of pandemic isolation. 

● Are in-person medical appointments a challenge, nowadays? They are, but I’m thankful for the safeguards in place. 

● Do I wish toilet paper, eggs, and milk were easier to get? Sure, but it’s doable (even though, when we do go grocery shopping, I have to sit in the car, while my wife goes in due to my high-risk status of immunosuppression). 

● Do I miss having our daughter visit us, even though she is only a hop, skip, and a jump away? Absolutely! But virtual visits suffice in the interim. 

● And, of course, Zoom has “virtually” saved our lives by allowing us to interact with others while in quarantine–yoga, workouts, group hangouts, etc. (another blessing, in that we’ve never been able to work out at our son’s fitness studio due to the distance, and now, we can join his virtual workouts) Overall, finding ways to occupy ourselves (in addition to Netflix) and being content in knowing that we are doing all of this to protect ourselves and those around us is definitely a good thing. And knowing that we are probably better prepared to live in these challenging times and, perhaps, letting others experience a bit of what most of us have gone through from our respective cancer journeys is a pretty cool thing! It doesn’t feel quite so “isolating,” right? Yay, us!

-Louis aka Stud