Coping With Ovarian Cancer Versus Coping With COVID-19
I’ve often thought that cancer and anxiety should be synonymous. And when you add pandemic to the equation…well…stress and daily meltdowns come to mind.
I finished chemo for ovarian cancer one year ago and still wrestle with fear and control issues. But after two years of therapy and self-reflection, I finally started feeling stable. And dare I say happy?
Then COVID-19 barged into our lives. As an extreme extrovert who lives alone, I quickly sank into a pit of sadness. I stopped writing and working out. I cried every day. It seemed like the last two years of therapy became unglued in a matter of weeks.
One day, my trainer checked in. I told him I hadn’t exercised in ten days, something that was out of character for me.
“Girl, get up and off the couch. I say this as your trainer and friend. I’m giving you some tough love. You made it through chemo – this is nothing compared to that. Now get moving!”
At first, I was taken aback. How did he expect me to lift weights when I could barely lift my head off the pillow? And why did coping with COVID feel more difficult than cancer?
Because back then, even though my world was chaotic with cancer and chemo, the rest of the world felt normal. And I had the luxury of support, community, and seeing people face-to-face.
During chemo, I could escape to the gym. Go shopping. Grab a coffee. Eat at my favorite restaurants. Sure, my world was in upheaval, but everything else was normal. These days, the entire world is in upheaval, life feels surreal, and there’s no sense of normalcy to grasp onto. The things I clung to during cancer aren’t possible now. Phone calls and texts and Zoom meetings don’t quite fill the hole in my heart like a hug or a comforting pat on the shoulder. But when I get an email or a phone call from my Sharsheret social worker, it puts a huge smile on my face to know she’s thinking of me.
My Sharsheret social worker reminds me that at least we’re all in this together. Despite struggling with my own worries and sense of isolation, I can help other people with theirs. Since I truly believe in the power of support and community, I recently decided to become a Peer Supporter with Sharsheret. After my cancer journey, it’s an honor to help someone going through theirs, because knowing you’re not alone makes all the difference. So I know firsthand how important Sharsheret’s work is, and I was so excited to share my story on Sharsheret’s Ovarian Cancer Update webinar recently. Seeing all the faces who signed onto that webinar was just another reminder that we’re not alone, and we’re all in this together.