I feel at this point I have reached “experienced professional” status as a quarantinee (not a word, don’t care, it is now). Why, you may ask can I self-identify as an EPQ? Well I am the lucky owner of a stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis and I have been in lockdown since August. My surgery, chemo and radiation are complete, but I still have months of infusions left before my initial treatment is finished. I now and forever will have an “underlying condition”. So, while everyone was out at parties, school events and spending time with friends – I was home avoiding all of you. Avoiding your germ spreading, cough spraying, dirty hand shaking and standing to close to me Typhoid Mary type behaviors. AND IT WAS FINE… It’s what I needed to do to beat this bitch called cancer. So, to all of you out there just starting life in quarantine I wanted to share some advice on how to make it easier.
1. Get out of bed – unless you actually have Covid-19 you should get your sorry butt out of bed every day. EVERY DAY. My doctor gave me this advice at the beginning of my treatment and even on days that I felt like walking death I got up and got dressed.
2. Keep a routine – now this is the hard, I am not going to lie. I mean who wouldn’t want to just stay on their phone and play candy crush all day? Try to eat at the same time, do normal household things, tackle projects you have been putting off.
3. Support one another- I was lucky because my husband and youngest son were home to help me during treatment, so I was never alone. I am currently home with my husband, two college kids and a high school kid so I can’t be alone even if I try, but that is ok. Check on friends, neighbors, parents – anyone you think needs to know someone is there for them. It’s a very small thing that always made a difference for me. I had friends who would just text to check-in or call if they were at the store to see if I needed anything. Do it for yourself and someone else, it will keep you sane.
4. Eat “together” as a family – make sure the healthiest person in your house is making the food and then enjoy it together, at a safe distance of course. (ok, listen I am writing this because I want my husband to keep cooking in our house, it has been one of the small joys during my treatment). Family spread out? Zoom or facetime during dinner, you’d be surprised at how much fun it can be.
5. Make your home cozy – This will be different for everyone. For me it’s opening the windows as soon as the temp is above 60 to air out the house so it feels like spring. Fresh flowers when you can to have something pretty. Today it is snowing (welcome to March in New England) so we have a fire roaring. For you it may be lighting candles or playing some tunes so you feel like you are in a coffee house instead of your house. Whatever it takes.
6. Avoid the Damn TV/News- We all need to stay informed but don’t have CNN playing in the background all day (and for god sake, don’t have Fox playing all day). Choose one time to read/watch the news and then move on. I am currently only watching Gov. Cuomo updates because he calms me. Spare yourself the panic of every new piece of news and just watch it at 6pm, like we did as kids. Remember when news was only at 6 and 11? Maybe that is why our parents were so much calmer than us.
7. Exercise- I know you gym rats are climbing the walls right now, but that place was a germ incubator!!! There are a TON of options that you can do at home. Many of your instructors are offering classes on-line. Pelaton, beachbody, your local YMCA and more have on-line options to follow so you can move your body and feel better. My husband walks our dogs twice a day. Some days I think he may never come back and I don’t blame him. We are a loud, somewhat overwhelming group when together for too long so if he wants to walk away for a break I am all for it.
8. Have a Kitchen Dance Party – When my kids were little my husband worked long hours and traveled – a LOT. Whenever I was feeling a little trapped and the kids were bouncing off the walls it was time for a kitchen dance party. You’d be surprised at how much singing at the top of your lungs while dancing awkwardly can make a difference in your attitude. It is my family’s go to for stress relief. The day I was diagnosed with cancer we danced it out because it sure as hell was better than crying.
9. Feel all the feelings – I give you permission to feel however you want. Our lives are weird right now and everyone has a strong feeling about it. I was so F’ing MAD when I was diagnosed. My life became a major plot twist and I was LIVID. That turned to determination to get through it and that same determination is getting me through this craziness. Some people are sad or depressed. Some people can be confused. Acknowledge how you are feeling and then move forward. Channel those emotions into positive actions, it makes a difference.
10. Positive Outlook – Listen, this thing is eventually going to end. It will. It’s hard to look down the road when things are uncertain. To me that is always the scariest part – I need a plan and I like to know what’s coming my way. During my cancer treatments realized I had to let go and just follow my Dr’s plan… I/We can’t control a lot of what is happening so we need to enjoy the small moments, find joy where we can and for God’s Sake have a sense of humor! I mean I really enjoyed the fact that I didn’t have to shave any of my parts during chemo – I was smooth as a baby’s butt – everywhere. Saved me money and time! Try to find a little glimmer of good or funny every day.
How I truly believe we get through this pandemic by adjusting our outlook, STAYING HOME and supporting one another. My last piece of advice is this, make sure you don’t start day drinking until at least 4pm. (week days only obviously) Keep your standards people, we aren’t savages.