The uncanny abyss: parallels of Covid19 and metastatic breast cancer

Hey, does anyone feel even busier than they normally do although we’re all supposedly so bored? I’m getting personally stir crazy. Marked by a masked run to my local craft shop to buy some wood flourishes for a cabinet I’m refurbishing and pens to continue with my #Zentangle meditative drawing practice.

On a more serious note: Unfortunately theres uncanny parallels between Covid19 and having metastatic cancer. The need for self-quarantine & social distancing leads to feeling isolated and alone, and comes with the both relatively uncharted territories.

Tangential to covid19 are the numbers of deaths associated with cancer. These most likely will not be counted in the sum total dead as a result of Covid19. Due to necessary precautions for immune suppressed populations such as my own – we will begin to see a long chain of deaths because clinical trials are postponed indefinitely and we have less access to healthcare and therapy that can only take place in the hospital. Furthermore, people who need to get checked when a mammogram isn’t considered a required procedure during this time, will have far reaching effects on our mortality – and I’m only speaking for breast cancer but do not ignore other cancer diagnostic exams.

Early detection can save lives. A few days ago the UK NHS stated that as many as 35,000 women will die as a result in the reduction of tests for breast cancer detection as well as the decline of in hospital medical oncology treatments over the course of the last four months.

Estimates haven’t gotten around to statistical analysis here in the US yet; they’ll be higher no doubt. I also cannot think the numbers will matter much, as the ostrich approach feels more comfortable than looking at people who are “anti maskers” and those who refuse to keep a safe distance or just stay put so we can all get back to life. But things do need to change, including a shift in our compassion and empathy as a society. Fighting seems to have replaced intelligent discourse and peaceful demonstrations shushed away by media covering the uglier, more newsworthy side of free speech.

However, not wearing a mask isn’t taking away anyone’s human rights but it does take the humanity out of the way we all live as a supposedly free country. I feel imprisoned due to my diagnosis and subsequent treatments, and it sucks.

I can’t speak for you, but the longer this goes on the less freedoms I have. We spiked to record numbers in Nevada and Placer counties, where I reside in California, this week. These new numbers of them diagnosed and the dead are the highest we’ve experienced and will only increase with the number of people who get tested.

Yet we aren’t testing nearly enough people. Must we continue through the next flu season and testing our country’s mettle even further as we sink deeper into this financial and mortality abyss? As a Stanford physician eloquently stated in a “Five Questions” interview on June 19th, “Wearing a mask doesn’t mean that you are weak or afraid or a coward. It’s a way to protect the vulnerable around you. It’s our duty to keep each other healthy.”

Going anywhere is a huge risk for me and others with immune suppressed systems. Stir crazy? Sure. Lonely. Very. But I’m more afraid that my five and a half years with metastatic breast cancer and all I and others like me have suffered to remain alive can be for nought if we don’t contain this virus with expeditious emphatic personal commitments to our neighbors.

#fuckcancer and #fuckcovud19

My Sad Week and Report on The Global State of Affairs of #mBC #MetastaticBC

www.breastcancervision.com/sites/default/files/review-mbc/decade_report_full_report_final.pdf

This is well worth your time to skim or even fully immerse yourself in, and I’d say is still relevant as far as attitudes and education go. Especially of advocacy.

I’m feeling sad this week as I should have been in Philadelphia with the Living Beyond Breast Cancer 2020 conference getting trained up and becoming one of the honored selectees to represent and act on behalf of the people who need it most – the patients. And become another voice to deliver the messages where they’re most needed. I’m really down because we couldn’t get a real story from our government to stave off a crisis. We were lied to. Cheated. Made vulnerable.

And I’ve not wanted to ever hear – don’t mention you’re terminal illness if you wind up in the hospital with the virus. You may not get a test or even a ventilator because you’re dying anyway. What if someone more valuable or worthy arrives?

Here’s a poem for you and my tears track around it like the little girl just learning that life means death. I hardly need to explain this to anyone reading. I love you all.

Erasure

Sad, long shadow-colored faces stare out from my past,

As time sits in my lap like any child.

Her wheaten braids, long

Punctuated by red ribbon,

With hands worried raw

Her eyes like a glass doll’s,

Wise with false memory

From fables and lies.

Comforting her with

Neverlands and evermores

I name her Tomorrow —

Yesterday’s taken.

Somewhere a darkened classroom with every wall covered

In blackboards time waits for me.

Wispy white chalk ghosts pinned by a futile hand

Tonight’s erasers coughed up puffs of smoke

Clean them free of my numbers and your letters as

I add them together.

Can I call upon anyone to raise their hand

For the answer is sometimes so clear

But the corrections

The incorrections.

Out in the yard I saw the remaining clouds,

Silver shivering unlined,

Too light to stay and easily blown away

At once leaving only light

Filtered into my pin pupil eyes.

And I without warning and against advice –

I stare into the sun.

Overcome by warmth in my extremities

From over the hills a white flutter appears.

It’s not a bird, the cloudless sky does oblige

Without wind. What fell at my feet:

I lifted up a note to: me. Please return

To: Eternally. He asks for a promise:

Now, here, you and only you

May love capture, like a photograph only

Just enough for talking too much to laugh.

What’s eternity’s address

The letter remains in my pocket

And waits for me to join

The rest in time and peace of mind.