‘Only positive and happy thoughts will be invited to my parties’
Coronavirus, like cancer, teaches us torment is mainly made up of worrying about future
Covid-19 or cancer could wipe us out but predicting or worrying about possible eventualities does nothing but hinder gorgeous life.
Covid-19 has knocked on every door in our country. Twice on the doors of people living with cancer, underlying conditions and on the doors of our elderly.
Life stands still but is ironically changing rapidly. The sense and sight of fear is unsettling. The uncertainty causing an anxiety that is rippling through our society.
Strangers feel like enemies.
Eye contact is avoided, and masks prevent any chance of a warm smile in the supermarket. Everyone eager to get home to feel safe again.
In an uncanny way, I have found myself comparing the impacts of Covid-19 with the impacts of cancer. Both responsible for causing crisis in too many households. Both having a knock-on effect on everyone around them.
Like cancer, Covid isn’t just about sickness. Loss of life isn’t the only worry. They have brought financial and mental turmoil. Loss of jobs leading to loss of identity, feeling of isolation and reduced self-esteem. Financial difficulties are causing anguish. We grow up with such goals and aspirations so how then do we cope when life forces us in a different direction?
I have lived with cancer now for six years. Four years being treatable and the last two being manageable.
Changing from treatable to manageable was the scariest and most isolating time of my life. Accepting that I cannot control cancer was more than difficult. In that time, however, I have thankfully gained confidence in my superhero oncologist. He is doing everything in his power to manage the physical side of my cancer and to maintain my great quality of life. He is a kind and amazing man with many tricks up his sleeve.
My reaction to cancer living with me on the other hand is entirely up to me. It is my job to manage the mental challenges faced. Recognising that my thoughts are random and not fact allows me to decide that negative thoughts will no longer be entertained. Only positive and happy thoughts from now on will be invited to my parties. Through the gift of mindfulness, I have learned that cancer without worry is a lot easier to live with. Taught to me in Arc House, it is the most valuable tool I have ever been lucky enough to receive. It has helped me to cope with the many aspects of cancer and has enriched my life in numerous ways. I am not naive enough to think that Covid-19 couldn’t wipe me out in a week or cancer in any length of time. However, I have learned that predicting or worrying about possible eventualities does nothing but hinder my gorgeous life.
In my work as a paediatric nurse, it always fascinated me to see sick children play in all that they were going through. Many of them oncology patients. This struck me as being a quality of resilience/self-preservation that we as adults often lose along the way. Wouldn’t it be great if we could let ourselves go back to being as carefree as a child or could occasionally see through a child’s eyes again? This could help us get through difficult times.
We live in a very competitive world, sometimes on autopilot . Often, we are too busy to even remember what truly makes us happy. I read a study that showed that happiness is 50 per cent due to genes and upbringing and 10 per cent circumstances beyond us like money or life events such as cancer or Covid-19. But interestingly, 40 per cent of our happiness is made up of things we can control ourselves such as attitude, relationships. hobbies and activities. Covid-19 has certainly put these to the test but I reckon we have enough creativity and crap in our houses to make our own fun for a while. Adults and children alike have risen to the challenge of the torture of physical distancing. Our children have adapted to the new norm of home schooling, activities online and maintaining relationships virtually.
Yesterday is history,
tomorrow is a mystery,
but today is a gift.
That’s why they call
it the present
As a nation, we should be very proud of and very grateful to our health workers and our government for the sacrifices they are making to try keep us safe. It has been an extremely challenging couple of months, but we have lots to look forward to. With the easing of restrictions, we can sit in our gardens with friends. We can plan afternoon tea with sunshine and umbrellas. We will be two metres apart for the moment but, as time heals and hope springs before we know it, we will be safe again to whisper side by side.
In current times, we need to preserve our sanity. I am no expert, but I know what it feels like to suffer in silence, to think that you have lost everything. Despite this, somewhere along the way I realised that most of my torment was made up of worrying about the future. In exceptional times, we need to be especially kind to ourselves. We must cling on to the goodness that comes out of the bad and learn how to dance in the rain!
To me that has meant bouncing on our trampoline, exhilarating water fights, taking comfort in the scent of our baking, taking pride in our DIY haircuts (even the bad ones) and rolling around laughing at old video recordings we may never have found the time to watch.
So for you, whatever it is that brings you joy I believe that is the present!