by Elaine Kennedy, member of FORCE's Board of Directors
The global Covid-19 pandemic has us waiting anxiously for the next official update. All plans, big and small, are on hold. Our lives and everything we want to do seems to be in the hands of doctors and scientists. The situation is continuously described as unprecedented. And yet for cancer survivors, the sudden “pause” or “halt” to life feels a little familiar. Personally, I’ve experienced this unwanted pause three separate times, and each time, I was left reeling from disbelief, frustration, anxiety and fear. But as many of us learn, cancer often brings unexpected gifts. Reflecting on those past challenges, I realized that battling cancer taught me a few valuable lessons that are helping with this current situation.
1. Things eventually get back to normal, but a new normal
When in the midst of fighting through a challenge, we’re often in warrior mode. We summon our strength and endure. It’s when you finally come out of the trenches and resurface that life can be most jarring. Although grateful for pulling through, sometimes there’s a natural hunger for “what used to be” and less excitement for the new normal. That’s ok. It’s helpful to grieve a little for the past…and then move on.
2. Finding that Silver Lining
Similar to this current pandemic, cancer patients spend a LOT of time at home or in the hospital. It’s not fun. But there are unexpected joys. Feeling the love and closeness from friends and family, finding unexpected strength, getting clarity on what’s important—these are some of cancer’s greatest gifts. And they can be found during this quarantine time as well.
3. Stronger than you think
Diagnosis, chemo, radiation, surgery, hair loss, fear, sadness. While fighting cancer, the hits just seem to keep on coming and we wonder how much more we can take. The fact is that we all have an incredible inner strength that seems to blossom during our darkest hours. And we also realize that despite our battles and sacrifices, we are indeed the lucky ones. The survivors.
So friends, we can do this. During bouts with cancer, I remember thinking that life would never feel right again. But it did. And it will again.