May 25, 2020

I Hold the Line

Good old Johnny Cash can sing and strum his guitar as he dances along The Line, but I, I vigilantly have to hold it each and every day, or I could die.

Good old Johnny Cash can sing and strum his guitar as he dances along The Line, but I, I vigilantly have to hold it each and every day, or I could die. Over the past two weeks, good friends of mine have asked when I am coming back to the city like we are going to get together for drinks or dinner...MY HIGH-RISK STATUS HAS NOT CHANGED, CORONAVIRUS DID NOT GO ON SUMMER VACATION, AND LIFE IS NOT BACK TO NORMAL.

Regardless of your religious, political, and economic views, the fact that thousands of Americans are contracting, testing positive for, and dying of COVID-19 every day is irrefutable. Thus, nothing has changed for me. I BLAME NO ONE FOR LOSING IT. AT ALL. We, as humans, did not evolve to be stuck in a single dwelling where we had to live, work, and educate the next generation. That said, a lack of patience and want to jump-start the economy does not affect my life at all. I still have to tell friends and family, that no, I am not going back to my apartment, the home that my husband and I have shared for five years, because I cannot risk getting into an elevator, where I will have to push multiple buttons, and be in a small enclosed space with my neighbors for at least 3 minutes. Our apartment building is also one block from one of San Francisco’s COVID-19 Pop-Up Triage Hospitals/Homeless Shelters. Thus, currently, there is a high concentration of COVID-19 positive patients in my neighborhood.

Summer Drinks Not Happening.jpg

While cancer treatment provided great training for living under neutropenic precautions, twenty-five years later it still has not gotten any easier to have to hold that line. OF COURSE, I WOULD LOVE TO PRETEND THAT THIS WHOLE COVID-19 IS WRAPPING UP and that we can grab a pizza on Friday, but that is not my reality, and frankly, that has never been my reality. Yes, I survived, and I am so incredibly grateful that I did, but that does not mean anything about my life or survival has been at all normal, EVER. I love my friends and family and am not mad at them, I am mad that even when all I want to do is run through the aisles of Target and TOUCH EVERYTHING, I can’t because I could die.

Yes, I could just leave you with my personal rant, but that helps exactly NO ONE, including me. I too need to learn how to talk the majority of people in my life who do not share my high-risk status and those who have trouble with or refuse to social distance. Here is what I have learned:

  • The Atlantic offers suggestions on how to approach friends about their refusal to take COVID-19 prevention guidelines seriously without straining or losing the friendship. Make it about their issues and fears, not yours...Harder said than done, I know.

Friends Are Breaking Up Over Socials Distancing, The Atlantic

  • Insights and advice from a frustrated woman navigating the COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of chronic illness. She gets it and has found others who do too.

I Am High-Risk for COVID-19--We Need to Talk, Vanity Fair

  • Caitlin Flanagan shares how her twenty-year battle with breast cancer may have prepared her for this moment, the clashing of her cancer and COVID-19, but not with how her country and fellow countrymen would deal with it.

    I Thought Stage IV Cancer Was Bad Enough, The Atlantic

  • As cancer patients and survivors we live for and by the numbers, from blood counts to dosages, numbers are very important to us and here are some of the latest you can share with friends and family who may need to hear them
    • The MORTALITY RATE of COVID-19 is THREE TIMES GREATER in cancer patients than it is in the general population
    • The RATE of COVID-19 INFECTION is TEN TIMES GREATER in cancer patients than it is in the general population
    • Cancer patients are more likely to
      • Develop in-hospital infections or
      • Chest distress or
      • Spend time in the ICU
    • Cancer patients being treated with immunotherapy are at a particularly high-risk

As you well know, there is no one or right way to navigate cancer or COVID-19. When you are struggling and feel like you are the only one home safe alone watch this and just reach out, I’m here. and so are the tens of millions just like you (see below).