COVID-19 & CancerIssue Introductions

Conquering COVID-19: Focus on What You Can Control

In her introduction to the April issue, Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG, offers wise suggestions to patients dealing with cancer while the world experiences an unprecedented crisis.
April 2020 Vol 6 No 2
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Oncology Navigation & Survivorship®; Co-Founder, Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators® (AONN+); University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer, Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Co-Developer, Work Stride-Managing Cancer at Work, Johns Hopkins Healthcare Solutions
Breast cancer survivor

Hello everyone. This is a time in our lives that no one will ever forget, experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the new coronavirus. For many of you who are currently receiving cancer treatment, this adds a layer of anxiety. For those around you who are untouched by cancer, this is a wake-up call and perhaps a realization of what your life has been like for some time—living in the land of uncertainty.

In this new issue of CONQUER magazine we provide a wealth of information, with some articles offering good advice on cancer and COVID-19 and others are heart-warming personal stories. But I have chosen to focus here on the impact of the current crisis on people who are dealing with cancer.

When I was just 16, I created my first cross-stitch project of a wishing well, which says, “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.” I still have it, and I display it in my office. It is a reminder of how precious life is. I say this as a 28-year breast cancer survivor.

Although some of you may be experiencing delays in your treatments, because your safety outweighs the immediacy of getting the next treatment, this is a time for a pause. A big pause, and a time of reflection. Such a global crisis brings out the best in people. Just looking at the news, you see people thanking their healthcare providers for what they are doing 24/7 for them and their community.

So many people feel that the world has lost control of itself. Don’t try to fix the world; just fix your own world and your surroundings. Follow the policies to practice physical distancing, wash your hands frequently, and wipe common surfaces. Stick with a healthy diet, exercise by power walking around your home or in your yard. Use FaceTime to see friends and family. Watch a funny movie.

Continue to adhere to your medicines as prescribed. Keep a journal to record your thoughts, and write down something good that happens every day. Say a prayer for everyone on the frontlines of this new war. Say a prayer for you and your family to remain well. These are things you can control! Get things done that you have procrastinated about for months or years. Sort through vacation photos from 2004. Do a needlepoint or cross-stitch project. Talk to your mom or dad a little longer on the phone. Limit the time you watch the news; it will just overwhelm you. Practice meditation and yoga before you go to bed. Turn off your cell phone before you go to bed.

Make a list of all the things you plan to do when it is safe to reopen America. Even things like walking around your block again. Above all, remember you are not alone. You are only alone if you choose to be, and I hope you don’t make that choice. I am here for you. I am thinking of you. You are on my prayer list, too.

Focus on the knowledge that this pandemic will come to an end. Although it may change our lives forever, it will also bring some good, such as seeing the dedication of healthcare providers in serving and caring for patients, despite being in harm’s way themselves; seeing neighbors and friends wanting to do more for each other; or witnessing families spending more time together. You have time to do things you never thought you would— do crafts, complete projects, learn a new language, become an artist.

Be safe, be well, and know you are not alone.

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Last modified: April 28, 2020

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