This year, 2020, was supposed to be “my year”. A year to heal. A year hopefully with fewer/no surgeries. A year to start anew. When 2019 finished at midnight, December 31st, I was lying in a hospital bed having just undergone my third surgery in 11 days. I was exhausted, in pain, frustrated and extremely weak. I was so disillusioned with the year I had just had…the surgeries, the setbacks the anxiety and the fear. Cancer and all its ramifications had taken its toll on me. BUT…2020 was the start of a new year; a new decade; new hope for better health and therefore a better life.
Well, its not news that 2020 has been and continues to be a sh#tstorm. COVID-19 has ravaged the world physically and mentally. People are afraid, angry, confused and frustrated. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight and that in itself is scary. Now, add the tensions of protests and hate crimes or what I call, Hatred-2020, to the agenda and we have a world that is spinning out of control. That is how I feel more often than not. Since being diagnosed with cancer, I have been suffering with terrible anxiety. A fear that grips you when you feel you are not in control. I start to tremble, I get very emotional and my breathing becomes laboured. The anxiety attacks vary in intensity and almost anything can set them off. Just riding as a passenger in a car is hard for me as I am reliant on someone else’s driving…and hence a loss of control. Crazy as it sounds, the anxiety that rears its ugly head can reduce me to a puddle of tears, which is embarrassing when it happens in public. Imagine witnessing a hysterical woman sobbing in the cereal aisle. It ain’t pretty!
I also have what they call “white coat” syndrome, which means I get anxious around doctors, medical staff, hospitals, etc. Many people feel nervous when they visit their doctor. Their blood pressure is usually slightly elevated and so the nurse will usually take it again at the end of the appointment once the person has relaxed a bit. Now with COVID-19, everyone is encouraged to wear a mask; and I agree and support this 100%! I diligently wear mine wherever I go, but it isn’t easy. Again, the feeling of claustrophobia that comes over me and being surrounded by people also wearing masks sends my mind right back to the operating room and those experiences. The fear that descneds upon me is like a dark blanket that is trying to strangle me. It’s unnerving to say the least…but I still wear my mask as I’d rather feel anxious than contract COVID!
Most everyone I know, because of COVID, are working remotely. It’s a necessity and we are fortunate that many of us can do so. I have taken it one step further. In order to protect myself I have been staying in a small town in Quebec, where there are NO cases of COVID. This is truly working “remotely” as where I am is VERY remote. But, there is fresh air, a clean, clear and very refreshing river to swim in and most of all, quiet and solitude. I am able to spend time with my parents and my daughter and her husband as they are all in my “bubble”. I don’t usually have the luxury of seeing my family as they all live several hours away so this has been a big plus for me. Getting away from the city, the stress and the growing cases of COVID has helped me immensely. I don’t feel as anxious. I am able to be outside and have the freedom to move about as there are fewer people to deal with. Strict protocols are followed by every store and business even though there are NO CASES here. And everyone wants to keep it that way!!!!
I know that I can’t remain in “hiding” forever. I will have to return to my home and the city but for now, I am able to live the life I hoped 2020 was going to bring. A life of less stress. A life that is allowing me to heal; and a life that we all took for granted before this pandemic. Once you have lived through a crisis, be it cancer or Covid, you realize how much can be taken from you in a blink of an eye. These are scary times, for all of us. As much as I am “hiding”, I cannot hide from the fact that 2020 and the world is not how we expected it to be. Please take care. Please wear a mask. Please social distance. Please let us work together to get our world back to normal….or at least a “new” normal.
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.