About The Author: Mindy is a stage 2 breast cancer survivor and medical speech-language pathologist working in a skilled nursing facility. She recently celebrated 4-years cancer-free and has found great healing in mentorship and advocacy within the breast cancer community on both the local and national levels.
Cancer Survivorship During The Pandemic
Breast cancer survivor… ✔
Healthcare worker at a skilled nursing facility… ✔
All of the above and during the time of COVID-19…. ✔
Combine these two roles plus our current global health crisis and you end up with a uniquely stressful day-to-day existence.
However, this is a real experience that so many of us cancer thrivers and survivors are living. Living, enduring, and surviving a traumatic medical hardship is already complicated, but add to that a global pandemic and working as a frontline medical care provider in a skilled nursing facility and you have an anxiety level elevated to the nth degree. Day after day. These have developed into weeks, into months, and are now steadily approaching a full year.
Pushed To The Limit: Physically & Mentally
Whether its PPE shortages (and finding creative means of compensating—rain suits and bleach wipes, anyone?), continuing to work full-time in an era of stay-at-home measures (what is quarantine?), dealing with the physical and emotional impacts of cancer treatment, or simply the unknown, these are compounding factors that over time can bring us people who are immunocompromised to a space of uncertainty and questioning our own health and safety.
Our own bodies have been through so much. Sometimes we question what more our bodies can handle. What would it mean for us if we or someone in our household contracted COVID-19? Are our bodies strong enough to weather it? To overcome it? Is our immunity strong enough to protect us if we needed to become a caregiver to a family member who may become infected? These are all very real questions that we don’t have the answers to until after these unfortunate events occur, and then we consult our own medical teams and we do our best to take every possible precaution in protecting ourselves and our loved ones.
As medical providers and cancer survivors, we are tired, though we journey on. We continue to show up even when our bodies and minds are pleading for rest, pleading to stay home.
Finding Purpose And Moving Forward
So from where do we draw our day-to-day motivation to be present and perform, to practice at the top of our respective licenses day in and day out? From where do we draw our inspiration? From where do we find the fuel to drive our hearts and our spirits to do our best?
Providing hands-on care to those in need, to those medically and emotionally vulnerable, affords us a unique opportunity to pay forward the kind and compassionate care with which our very own providers and care teams gifted (and continue to gift) us. When families are restricted from being at bedside, we are granted the opportunity to show these moms, dads, grandmas, and grandpas that we care, that their lives and stories are important. True tender loving care—this is what it is all about. This is why we are here. And it is in these selfless acts that we continue to heal, and our survivorship takes on new meaning as we work to empower those we serve. We work to imprint what it means to be a survivor onto those who are just beginning their respective journeys back to health and independence.
And this is where we find purpose, in the transference of hope and healing, from one survivor to another. We learn that, together, we are more than survivors. We are healers working to heal those in need. We are overcomers, and we will overcome all that is put before us—together.
One day at a time.
If you are looking for more resources and support surrounding cancer, check out our other blogs:
- 13 Ways To Help A Loved One With Cancer
- Gift Ideas For A Patient Undergoing Chemotherapy
- 5 Things No One Told Me About Chemotherapy
- Online Support Groups For Cancer Patients And Caregivers
Want to share your story? Let us know in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love hearing from our community members!