I had the best intentions: I was going to wake up, shower, get dressed, and go to Hobby Lobby. After all, I had convinced myself that these projects were urgent and had to be completed, like, yesterday.
My plan was going pretty well - until it wasn’t. I had managed to get up and shower, and I even made it to Hobby Lobby. However, on the way home everything took a turn for what I would definitely call the worst.
As I was strolling home, excited about my newly purchased items, and the new projects that I was about to embark upon, I was stopped dead in my tracks. Only a few centimeters away from me was a middle-aged man coughing and sneezing his lungs out. Each uncovered sneeze and cough was accompanied by a tear-jerking bowing of his knees. As he coughed and sneezed, he was barely able to stand up. He staggered down the street like someone who had had far too many drinks. Except his drink was the horrible virus he had caught that was almost bringing him to his knees right before my eyes.
My first thought was, “I hope it isn’t airborne.” Once I arrived home, everything was fine. I felt my usual unwell feelings but nothing major or different, or so I thought.
Starting to feel symptoms
Two days later, I felt as if I were taking the strongest chemo known to man, mixed with a train wreck, and sprinkled with a heavy dose of food poisoning. Everything hurt from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. Even my eyeballs hurt. I could barely move, and eating was out of the question.
I thought that maybe if I rested I would feel better, but rest was far from the solution. My throat tickled and ached at the same time. My eyes and skin were on fire. My temperature became so high that my skin began to peel, and the creases of my lips began to split.
This wasn’t cancer. Nor was it your normal run-of-the-mill flu virus. This felt deadly. For days I couldn’t eat, drink, or move. I couldn’t even talk. Every time I would try to talk, I would get choked. It felt as if a million little knives were sticking me in my throat. I couldn’t lie on my back because it felt like my lungs were collapsing.
My doctor was on me like white on rice: “Take your antibiotics. Rest. Drink plenty of fluids. No visitors. And you must stay inside for at least two weeks. You have the coronavirus.”
My husband catches the virus
This was in mid-January, before the media frenzy, and I had barely heard of the coronavirus. So, I followed her orders because there wasn’t much more that I could do. I had no energy.
The next thing I knew, my anchor, my backbone, my rock had gotten the virus as well. How could this be? He’s never sick. The words kept running through my mind: He’s never sick. But sick he was, and it was all my fault.
As he would cough and double over trying to catch his breath, my heart broke into a zillion pieces. I had never seen him this way, and it just shattered my heart that there was nothing that I could do to help him.
As the days went on, it was extremely rough on both of us. At one point I thought, “We could actually die from this!” We felt just that bad, and it seemed as if the very life was being sucked out of us. I didn’t know if we were living an episode of Fear Factor or Faith Factor.
We chose Faith Factor. We had to believe and push through because neither one of us was ready to throw in the towel. With each new day came sprinkles of energy, and before I knew it I was able to call my favorite: GrubHub. My doctor was in constant contact, and my social worker even came by a few times to drop off food.
What I learned from this experience was that there are some things that may feel far worse than stage 4 cancer, but whatever the diagnosis, you have to fight through it. I have a brand new relationship with faith, resilience, and determination.
Faith, resilience and determination
What I thought might be the end was only the beginning of a new way to fight. While each day isn’t great, I have a new lease on life because I’ve chosen faith over fear. Being terminally ill can be extremely frightening, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to die to be deceased; you can merely stop living and become the walking dead.
However, there is life after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. You just have to choose faith over fear. The choice is all yours.
Editor’s note: This article was published on April 29, 2020. Further developments in what we know about COVID-19 are continuously emerging. For more information about COVID-19 and strategies for coping, visit Advanced Breast Cancer and COVID-19.
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