Looking for that elusive silver lining can be tricky when you have cancer
By Kathryn E. Vinson, MS, CCRC
Staying Positive in trying Times – My dearest friends, to say that the last few weeks have been challenging may be the understatement of the century. Many of us have seen loved ones not only battle a virus to which we have no proven cure or vaccine, but we know many that have lost their jobs or seen their hours drastically reduced. A very close family member of mine was diagnosed with COVID a couple of weeks ago. Many thanks to God, he has recovered, but that was a very scary time for me.
As cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers, we are well accustomed to having people tell us, “Just stay positive, look on the bright side, etc.” It seems that the rest of the world is learning that those words aren’t always so simple to put into practice. While our friends and neighbors are experiencing that fear and isolation that has become so familiar to so many of us, our first thought may be “Welcome to my world!” We are in a unique position though – that of being able to say – I understand.
Facing our own fears
The data is plain to see that patients with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer and myriad other diseases, are at a greatly increased risk of death due to COVID-19. There is no way to sugar-coat this – it is what it is. But, there are ways that we can protect ourselves. For cancer patients and their caregivers, the concepts of social distancing are that much more vital than for those in the general population. Proper use of masks and gloves are vital – if they aren’t used correctly – you might as well not use them at all. For any questions on the proper use of personal protective gear – please contact your treatment team. Also vitally important is that your caregivers also adhere to these protective measures to help prevent inadvertently spreading the virus to you.
Reasons for hope
Despite the fears for our health and economy, there are still reasons to smile during these trying times. A quick search on clinicaltrials.gov revealed that as of April 10th, there are 440 registered clinical trials examining the novel coronavirus worldwide. These studies range from treatments to vaccines to antibody research. The best and brightest among us are working feverishly to get this bug under control! And although we aren’t hearing about any other research in the news nowadays, rest assured that there are over 25,000 studies currently looking at cancer!
Now then – not to sound cheesy – but there are some amazing things happening in our local communities, and even nation and world-wide.
- Local restaurants are putting together grocery boxes, utilizing their suppliers, to help provide food to their communities. Not only does this help the consumer, it helps local businesses stay afloat!
- Numerous academic websites are offering free tutoring and activities for kiddos that are being schooled at home for the first time ever. I read a story about students at Berkley, MIT, and Harvard offering to tutor kids, for free! How awesome is that!
- Families are coming together like never before. We are eating together, going for walks, riding bikes.
- Libraries around the world are putting thousands of books online for free!
- Museums are providing virtual tours!
- Even local meteorologists are hosting free classes online to teach kids about the weather.
- The Scouts BSA Troop to which my two sons belong is doing a “virtual campout” for the boys! They will camp in their yards, and connect online for togetherness.
Above all else, we need to remember kindness during these trying times. So many essential workers are away from their families for days, or weeks at a time, with no end in sight. Now is truly the time to “kill them with kindness.” We truly don’t know what people have happening in their personal lives. A smile or a kind word goes a long way. Even if your face is covered with a mask, a smile can be seen in your eyes.
As always, much love, many prayers, and abundant blessings to all of the warriors out there!!