Waiting

"The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you get one more yard
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part"

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Early February

Woohoo. Almost done with the worst part of chemo. Feeling like I could actually go on that girls’ trip with my sister to her beautiful home in sunny Florida. Then later in the spring might even go on to Vermont with my husband to hike and travel the Vermont Beer Trail.

Covid-19 to me in late March

Sit down, sister. You’re not going anywhere.

After one whole year since my diagnosis of breast cancer, after one entire year of doing exactly what the doctors told me, and then anticipating the end of the worst part of my treatment, the universe did what it does best. Screwed me over with the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, here I am once again, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting. After waiting one whole year, waiting for the trip my sister and I were going to take, waiting to possibly travel to Vermont with my husband, I’ve returned to the world of waiting, waiting, waiting.

New area of expertise

Although this can be considered my new area of expertise - waiting - I don’t like it. It’s torture. Those of us with breast cancer actually know very well how to wait. We were forced into it way before the rest of the world went into coronavirus-caused suspended animation. We have long ago learned to meditate and breathe deeply; we sit patiently in our chairs while the toxic cocktail slowly drips into our bodies through our ports; we adapted to the long, empty, boring hours afterward when we feel sicker than we ever felt in our lives. We have perfected the art of taking naps and we drag ourselves out the door for walks on the days that we feel half decent. We have learned when to take our symptoms seriously and when to just chill out until our next doctor visit. We learned and we wait. It is our new hidden talent.

Greetings

So to all you new self-isolators out there, greetings! Welcome to our world. Join the club. Come right in and make yourself at home. It’s not so bad here! We know because we have been sheltering-in-place for quite some time now. We look at you with a little pity and also a little self-righteousness because we hope you now understand somewhat what we’ve been going through. Although to those of you who are healthy it’s a bit different; you don't have to endure our long slog through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to learn the art of waiting. But we forgive you. It’s not your fault. And now we’re all in this together.

Anticipate returning to normal

We breast cancer folks try not to live our lives in fear. We try hard to look at the future as though it could be a happy and healthy future. The whole globe, literally, now feels like we do. All of us on this planet now hope and anticipate returning to normal when the coronavirus is defeated. But the uncertainty and anxiety and the waiting, for now, continue.

Editor’s note: This article was published on April 27, 2020. Further developments in what we know about COVID-19 are continuously emerging. For more information about COVID-19 and strategies for coping, visit Self-Care in Uncertain Times.

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