Breast Cancer Prepared me for the Covid-19 Pandemic

What if your blessings come through raindrops
What if your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise.

~lyrics from “Blessings” by Laura Story

I was listening to this song when it struck me that although every person’s life has been changed by the Coronavirus pandemic, mine had already been changed three years earlier with my breast cancer diagnosis. Being diagnosed with a potentially terminal illness, altered my outlook on what is important, and has influenced decisions I make every day. Being more aware of the brevity of life, I not only look for the good, I also seek out inspiration I can share with others.

I have realized the following:

  1. Choosing to stay home instead of going out to socialize is not difficult when you think of people on the verge of losing their homes because of the loss of their jobs, or the people who don’t have homes at all, or persons in hospital who would love to be in their homes.
  2. As contrary as it may sound, connecting with friends and family via social media or virtual platforms has created a closeness through necessity, and shared experiences. Creativity abounds as people find new ways to connect and celebrate special occasions, perhaps with more people realizing the importance of celebrating in times of darkness.
  3. My love for nature has allowed me to experience awe-inspiring sunrises, sunsets and flora, as I capture many of these moments with my camera and share with others. As was the case while going through chemotherapy, my other form of therapy continues to be photography.
  4. God continues to keep me centered on what is important in life, even as I am unable to attend my church services. Throughout my battle with breast cancer the prayers and support of many including my church family, helped me to not only survive, but also to thrive. Ironically I now worship at more services online, than I was able to physically attend prior to the pandemic.

“Connecting with friends and family via social media or virtual platforms has created a closeness through necessity, and shared experiences.”

There are far worse things than being confined to home, or wearing a mask, or not being able to go to the movies and parties, or having to wash hands regularly or not being able to celebrate physically with friends, or even to attend the funeral of a loved one. This is what I focus on in moments when I am tempted to succumb to self pity…my trials in life being blessings in disguise.

Is This the End of the World?

An extreme optimist is a man who believes that humanity will probably survive even if it doesn’t take his advice. ~ John McCarthy

Over the past few weeks it seems as if the globe is in the middle of an end-of-the-world, apocalyptic type of horror movie. To date there have been over 315,000 confirmed Covid stuffworldwide cases of Covid-19, with almost 15,000 reported deaths. Terms like “Social Distancing”, “Lock Down,” “Quarantine” and “Pandemic” have become a part of everyday vocabulary. Hundreds of millions of persons have had their lives drastically changed with restrictions on travel, behavior modification and the daily search for scarce supplies such as hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes, disposable masks and yes, toilet paper.

Images of Spring Breakers cavorting on beaches while persons lay dying in hospitals, do not bode well for the future of a new generation whose attitude indicates that their pleasure is more important that the lives of persons they could infect by their careless behaviour.  News reports project that the situation will become far worse before it improves, as the scientific and medical fraternities search desperately for a cure, to halt the increasing rise in the rate of worldwide infections and deaths.

Hope.
As dire as this all may seem, like a phoenix rising from the ashes there are signs of hope emerging from the midst of despair:

  • Residents of Spain and Italy were confined to their homes in an early attempt to halt the spread of the virus. Videos have been circulated with musicians performing from their balconies, raising the spirits of their neighbours who joined in singing along and clapping.
  • With universities sending students home to continue education online, many families have through shared trauma, grown closer by necessity and begun to have serious conversations about life and the changing future.
  • Parents who have now been forced to “teach” their young children using lesson plans supplied by the schools, now have a greater appreciation for teachers and other educators.
  • Sharing experiences with strangers encountered (at the approved social distance) create bonds as the adversity of their shared experiences can serve to bind strangers together.
  • If you live near open spaces and are able to take nature walks, you have the opportunity to discover how truly beautiful our world can be.

As history continues to be written over the next few months (hopefully not years) our changing world may actually be a kinder, gentler one where we are neighbours in the true sense of the word.