I am very sad to day. I woke up this morning full of plans for the day. After scrolling the newspapers on the Internet I discovered that Kelly Preston is diseased after a two years struggle against breast cancer. I met my own fear with anxiety and I could not sit still. All my plans were changed. Instead I have been trying to escape my cancer thoughts with a very long walk.
I took a walk for about 10 km with an audio book to disturb my thoughts. But it failed, of course. I dont even remember the content of the chapter I was listening to. While I was walking my mother rang. She had also become very nervous on my behalf, because she had read about Kelly Preston too. What did I do then? Well, I tried to comfort her with the facts that my lump is out and that the oncologist told me I had an early stage breast cancer and so on. My mother calmed down, but my anxiety raised to a peak I havent felt for a long time. No one was there to comfort me. After my conversation I walked even faster yet again trying to escape my cancer thoughts. I get the same feelings when people ask me how I am doing, and I say I am doing fine. It is just like they dont believe me. I just feel it. People forget that my breast cancer is not someone elses breast cancer. Each and everyone is treated differently.
The anxiety equalizer
Back home I found my writings, some notes I made after my meetings with the oncologists. These words are gold to me and my only comfort. But it takes a while to find this comfort and the calm to ease off the anxiety. During the day I know my writings will. Even though I did not know Kelly Preston, her death had a huge impact on my day. It feels like I am in family or related to anyone who struggles with the disease, or have died of it. In a way that comforts me too. We are many and more to come, unfortunately. We can comfort each other, while each of us comfort our family.
In this very moment many people are fighting for their lives while I am living in a calm corner of the pandemic world, for now. Just 33 people among a population of approximately 50 000 have tested positive, and all 33 are declared healthy and out of isolation. No one in my town have died yet. But we are all living in an experiment and we don`t now the outcome yet. Some diseases put you at risk and the Covid19 disease and cancer may be a serious combination.
Covid19 and cancer
Chemo therapy makes you more vulnerable for any infections. Even for common infections like a cold. These viruses have your body been fighting many times. During a chemo therapy your immune system would have problem fighting these viruses, because the number of leukocytes are very low. Chemo therapy is on the list of risks that may give you serious symptoms of Covid19. No one has met the corona virus causing the Covid19 disease before. So meeting this virus can be devastating even for people who don`t have any underlying diseases.
Radiotherapy is also on the list of treatments that may give you a serious Covid19 disease. Radiation stops the mitosis of the cancer cells or kill them, but it also paralyze the healthy cells for a short period of time. Since the corona virus is an airway virus I assume the doctors are talking about radiation to the chest, neck, face and so on when it comes to developing serious symptoms, because the air have to pass by these body parts down to the lungs. When the radiation paralyze the healthy cells your body may be invaded by the virus.
I got some links for you about the Covid19 disease and cancer at the end of my post if you want to read more about it.
I have had radiation to the chest, because of my breast cancer. But I had to breathe in a specific way called coaching to minimize radiation to my lungs. To describe the method I will say it is like breathing in on command. Instead of lifting my stomach I had to lift the chest during respiration. I had to hold the breath until the radiotherapist told me to breath normally. But even though my radiotherapy is finished the radiation will keep on working for several weeks.
I see myself in the risk group, but my doctor disagree. I mean that since I have had cancer, my immune system must have been out of order. I also got an auto immune disease and have to take tablets for it everyday. So I don`t trust my doctor and I will take no risks and rather stay safe. I have changed my lifestyle to support my immune system like no alcohol, more fruits and vegetables, more fish, at least 10 000 steps a day and enough sleep to mention some measurements.
The uncertainty and fear for life caused panic attacks, and I truly believed that I never would see my youngest son grow up. I even woke up at nights with panic attacks and found myself standing on the floor. I had written down most of what my oncologist had told me, but during my panic attacks I could not find any comfort in my writing. In the end I had to ask my doctor for a prescription on Oxazepam, at least to get some sleep. But I also found that the medicine also helped me to pull myself together and think rational.
I never thought I would reach the end of my seven weeks of radiation because of the pandemic. But I made it. I voluntarily isolated myself to prevent any diseases, because that would have put me in a 14 day of quarantine.
Corona and anxiety
When Corona invaded the world I forgot all about the cancer. My anxiety was now caused by this virus. The difference now is as I feel it, I am not “alone” in the world with this overwhelming feeling. These days I think everyone knows what anxiety feels like……….
Cancer rehabilitation and side effects
After my radio therapy I was supposed to take care of myself. I planned to have long walks, visit friends and my mother, relax in our cottage and train. But corona put an end to all of my plans.
I have to use half of my days to be a (non pedagogic) teacher for my son. It doesn’t help him very much when his so called teacher is struggling with side effects like fatigue and concentration issues. The cure for these side effects is to drink a lot of water, a walk outdoor and a hobby or an activity that gives you energy.
I got mixed emotions when the schools in Norway are opening for my son this weeks. Some say children are less likely to become very ill of Covid19. Other children have died of the virus and some have developed the Kawasaki syndrome. So I don`t no what to believe or think anymore. I guess I will keep my son at home, because the Covid19 disease and cancer make me scared.
Hygiene and preventing Covid 19
For the future, at least until we got a vaccine, I guess I will continue to isolate myself, keep distance to other people and try to maintain good hand-, cough-, and sneeze hygiene. After I have been to the grocery store I also wipes of the packaging of the goods I have bought. You never know who and what other people have done to it.