The last time I wrote an article COVID-19 was not something we were so worried about in the United States; it was something we were watching unfold in China and Italy. But, in a blink of an eye, it started to unfold in New York City. I think a lot of us, myself included, thought this was not that big a deal; we are the most powerful country in the world with some of the most advanced health care systems. As I saw one of America’s beautiful cities start to crumble and the death toll start to rise, so did the anxiety for me and my fellow cancer survivors.
Maybe it’s because COVID-19, a little like cancer, is so unknown. You don’t know who is going to get it, how it would affect you, or if you would survive. These are the same thoughts a cancer patient goes through the first days of “you have cancer.” What type of treatment will I have? How aggressive is it? How will I survive? All the “what-ifs?” are scary.
Those of us with cancer already understand what it means to “shelter in place” and stay away from people, germs in particular. When going through treatments, your white blood cells are too low, so you must be extra cautious since your immune system is already compromised. It was like we already had some inside information on how to get through this time as the world shut down around us.
Personally, I did what I always do and jumped into action. I set up online yoga and spin classes to keep my health and mindset above the line. In the back of my mind, I somehow knew that we were in this for the long haul. My friends were hopeful that this would be over in a few weeks. Then, those days turned into weeks, and as the reality set in days turned to months, hope turned to fears, and fears turned into more anxiety.
Social media outlets bred worry, doubt, and anger. Breakdowns of friendships and relationships with people who you never thought would have disagreements had openly unfriendly fire right in front of our eyes. Heated tensions rose. With the news talking about the virus daily, our cancer community became scared to leave their homes fearful of death once again.
All of this is sensory overload in my heart; everyone has their valid reasons for the fears of the unknown.
So, six months later, we wait and see what will happen. Fears and anxiety remain high. It is a long pause in life, but time for all of us to take a good look at what is most important; to take a step back and really enjoy a moment or to re-evaluate what your future will be.
If you can change your mindset to see what you have been given versus what has been taken away, it might be easier to accept change and then pivot to what may be a new future. Only time will tell, but ask yourself, do you have the courage to embrace change? Because one thing is for sure…it’s inevitable.
Shay Moraga, E-RYT500 is a triple negative breast cancer survivor. She teaches Yoga for Cancer Caretakers and Survivors locally at Eisenhower’s Lucy Curci Center and is founder of Shay’s Warriors – Life After Cancer. Contact Shay at [email protected], or reach out on social media at Shay’s Warriors.