It was a hard to take in what the nurse was telling us. We had strategies and tasks and dreams for the months ahead. Then all of a sudden– radiation, surgical treatment and chemotherapy were the top products on our program.
I once talked to surgeon Sherwin Nuland, author of How We Die: Reflections on Lifes Final Chapter, and asked him about the tensions and unpredictabilities of the year of treatment. His answer: “I always consider that year to be a sacrifice you make in the interest of the rest of your life.” Because those are some tough treatments. But the hope is that the rigors of treatment will not fail, that the physical toll– not to mention the personal strength you should summon to cope– will be for a higher good.
Now here we are, months into a global pandemic the likes of which essentially no one alive (with the exception of 1918 influenza survivors) has actually experienced.
As the saying goes, simpler stated than done. There were times when my other half and/or I lost it, when tears streamed, when anger simmered over at how unreasonable cancer is.
I was reminded of our year of cancer when the pandemic was declared. For some cancer clients, its not a year, its a life time. “The challenge with breast cancer– and with the virus– is that the finish line keeps getting moved,” says Bantug, who was detected with breast cancer at age 23 and had a reoccurrence 2 years later on.
Maybe when we get to the other side, there will be lessons learned about patience and humility and lovingkindness. “I utilized to state, discover not to sweat the small stuff,” Bantug says with a laugh.
There are no easy services. We discovered that weeping in fact helps– launching all those suppressed feelings is a relief. When I was despondent, and often my spouse comforted me. And I hope I was able to do the very same for her– possibly with a back rub, possibly with kind words.
I understand all those instincts, but I am guided by that nurses suggestions.
My other half was right to insist. Our overnight getaway was a charming break from tips of cancer all over our house, from the visit notifications to the physicians bills.
Marc Silver is the editor of NPR”s Goats & & Soda blog site.
I do not have to tell you that the pandemic does suck.
“You arent going to have the year you thought you d have.”
For some cancer patients, its not a year, its a life time. When cancer metastasizes– spreads to other parts of the body– the battle to keep it at bay can be relentless. And takes incredible nerve and strength.
Now 38, she counsels breast cancer survivors at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer. In 2020, simply as we did during our year of cancer, we look for ways to escape pandemic anxiety.
In the U.S., where I live, individuals are tired of lockdowns and constraints. They desire to go out and reclaim their lives. They desire to consume out, participate in a ballgame, hang out with friends.
We are especially grateful for all the technological advances that help us cope. Virtual chats with family and pals are a balm. The strength we get from human connections in 2020 reminds us how the assistance of our liked ones helped us get through cancer. There were times when all we wanted to do is say “cancer sucks”– and hear back, “It sure does.”
In 2020, simply as we did throughout our year of cancer, we look for ways to escape pandemic anxiety. Im playing piano more than I have in years. My wife is messing around in watercolors.
When the pandemic was declared, I was reminded of our year of cancer. Like lots of individuals all over the world, I believed, well, theres an outbreak in China but it wont occur to us. Which is how I always believed about cancer.
Were not going to have the year we believed we d have due to the fact that of the pandemic. We cant do all the important things we want to do up until this pandemic is under control– just as my wife and I hoped that radiation, surgery and chemotherapy would leave her with “no proof of illness,” as they say in cancer world.
We were mad. How dare cancer interfere?
Now 38, she counsels breast cancer survivors at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer. “Type A people who need whatever to be on schedule “are the ones who have a hard time the most,” she says. What she found out from her experience: “Be flexible.”
Theres the unpredictability of illness to deal with– whether cancer or the novel coronavirus. Thats what Elissa Bantug advised me. “The obstacle with breast cancer– and with the virus– is that the goal keeps getting moved,” says Bantug, who was detected with breast cancer at age 23 and had a recurrence two years later on.
Thats what a nurse informed my partner and me after my partner was diagnosed with phase 2 breast cancer. The cancer news came as a shock, as it often does.
I cant wait on traffic to come back so it can piss me off, too.
Finding minutes of fun and relaxation helps, too. They dont need to be big offers. Its more like youre recovering a bit of old normal satisfaction and, for a while, not thinking of cancer (or the pandemic). Throughout my wifes year of treatment, we took short hikes when we could. As soon as or twice, we went to the films. We even disappeared over night to a spa. It was my spouses concept as a birthday getaway for me. I thought it was an absurd plan. What if she was feeling too queasy from chemo? What if it was too risky due to the fact that she was more vulnerable to infections due to chemo?