September 30th, 2020
| Survivor: Gestational Trophoblastic Tumor
As we all sit in our homes, isolated away from our normal day-to-day activities and peeps; to the cancer world, this is nothing new or unexpected. Us cancer survivors and patients know first-hand about homebound isolation and staying away from people. We know about having to leave our day to day activities to allow for treatments, appointments, tests, resting, healing, or just doing nothing but breathe. We know what it is like to have our entire life come to a halting stop. We know what it’s like to be sitting within our walls, watching from the inside. We know the ideas of confinement and withdrawals. We know the long-lived anticipation to return to normal, oh, yes, normal, a normal that many never get back to….we know all too well.
We know what it’s like wearing masks all while eyeing people from afar. We know all too well the varied types of masks from soft to scratchy to those that ride eye high. We know the concept of the many varieties of handkerchief uses; from an up-do hair wrap to a much-needed mask. We know all too well. We know what it’s like to avoid physical contact with other human beings. We know all too well seeing our loved ones and friends through screens aglow or old school ear volume of a phone, the time away while we are getting infusions and treatments. We know the value of protecting our own immune system whilst protecting others from ourselves due to our strong chemos and treatments. We know the constant use of hand sanitizers, Clorox wipes and the constant hand washing, reminders that become a necessity for survival and prevention. We know all too well. We know all too well letting others do our grocery shopping and errands, yes, we do know well, relying on others to do our tasks with earned patience and availability.
What we don’t understand is the fact of the entire world being shut down along with us. We are used to sitting, watching the entire world continue on while we are at a stop; our longing desires to fit in and get a move on with our lives escalates beyond comprehension. This virus pandemic has brought the world to join us at our ‘level’. We are all sitting within our home walls, stopped, more like ripped, from our day-to-day activities. We are all experiencing the effects of social distancing, home isolation, and being cut-off from the world. We are all living the life of masks; a wide variety of many creative styles, shapes and materials. We are all connected, however, with the use of social media and the internet. We are all in this with shortage or complete lack of high demand supplies, missed or delayed doctors’ appointments, promotions, solo birthday parties, or job loss. We are all in this together getting creative ideas to help pass the time, digging deep within ourselves, completing those to-do home projects, or possibly even beginning new ones. We are all in this together with missed graduations and cancelled vacations. (Hats off to all Seniors 2020!) We are all in this together, together as one unit all while gloomy that you had to be there with us.
In the meantime, what are us cancer survivors to do? Confusion is stirring about and many are terrified to even think to leave their front door. Do this, do that, don’t do this or that. It is all confusing and frustrating! Here is a small list of tips to help you keep safe:
1. Talk to your doctor(s). Let your doctor(s) know your entire health history, including all cancer(s), cancer treatments and side effects that you may have. This will help your doctor determine the best decisions for you during this time. Your doctor may run a series of tests to confirm or not confirm your concerns.
2. Take extra precautions to be safe. This was a biggie for me as a cancer survivor. I quickly learned the means of “Sanitation Survival” since I was neutropenic after every inpatient chemo, even with Neupogen injections. Extra precautions means over-frequent hand washing, always keeping hand sanitizers at hand, avoiding crowds or even people altogether (maybe even keeping distant from members inside your home just like when on chemo), washing down all veggies and fruits, and sanitizing counters and surfaces. Some other safety measures are wiping down everything that enters your home or what you touch, or wearing gloves and specialty masks/other available ppo when going out.
3. Avoid going out and leave it to others to do your needed tasks. This can range from hired grocery shoppers to a family member or friend. If you do go out, go when there are less crowds say early morning or later in the evening.
4. Keep your hands away from your face and mouth at all times. This was always a rule taught by grandma!
5. Social distance through virtual meeting. Although it is not the same as in-person, it is much better than no social contact at all. Some find that outside distancing in the fresh air is suitable while taking all the other precautions.
6. Lastly, seek a higher power: priest, pastor, elder, and/or prayer to help aid in peace with your decision or to help find one that is best for you all while taking account of your own personal measures.
We are all in this together and we will endure, we will keep strong, we will fight, and we will press on.
Photo courtesy of author.
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