What the Pandemic and Prostate Cancer Have Taught Me

Someone once remarked that nothing happens for decades, but decades happen in weeks. You'd have to search back a long time to find more weeks that contained decades than we experienced in the early stages of the pandemic in 2020.

Safeguarding my emotional health

The pandemic tore through our lives against a social backdrop of unrest, political upheaval, environmental catastrophes, and economic uncertainty. It caught us off guard, exposing the fragility of many of our systems and upsetting life's delicate balance.

As a prostate cancer patient, I faced isolation, separation, disrupted appointment schedules, and increased daily responsibilities. I had to take immediate action to safeguard my emotional well-being.

Mental health has gained prominence in both my discourse and that of the general public and professional community. The pandemic highlighted systemic and socioeconomic disparities. These, we now know, were present before everything else.

A person at risk

I was considered a person at risk for the first ten weeks following my cancer diagnosis. I remained home-bound until someone could offer more guidance.

For me, it was nothing new to be in a lockdown situation. In January 2012, I was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. According to my doctor, my chances of survival were slim. At the beginning of my cancer journey, I spent most of my time at home. Looking at four walls daily became second nature to me.

My muscles deteriorated into flabby skin. I knew then what a lack of physical activity meant. Because of my worsening mental state, I was also on the verge of suicide ideation. Something that I could never have imagined.

Taking time to reflect

But the pandemic was painfully different in so many ways. I had not seen my children or grandchildren amid the lockdown, and that hurt worse than a sharp knife cut.

We managed via video chat, but it was not the same as interacting with them in person. I see growth and intelligence in my grandchildren. The next time I saw them, I can imagine the height and weight shift they added. For a long time since the pandemic, I think most of us have rarely stopped to reflect. We were so busy in the rat race of life.

One of the impacts was on our health services. Our doctors and nurses had been taken for granted too long. Some lost their lives. Another effect was how the general population, regardless of ethnicity, noticed one another. Good morning, afternoon, and evening were daily greetings, all with a smile. Our neighbors, whom we casually strolled past each day, turned into close friends across the fence.

Becoming closer

On the few occasions I wandered the streets, I saw smiles and heard niceties exchanged. We began actively communicating and getting to know one another during this period. I thought to myself, could this continue? Would society evolve and become more humane and friendly?

That is yet to be determined. At the time, the best thing we could have done was to take advantage of it while it lasted. As we look at society today, I think we have reverted to pre-COVID days. Yet the flames of COVID once again rise like a phoenix from the flame. The world is on tenterhooks with war in Europe and war in the Middle East. All of this plays on everyone's mental health.

However, the fight against cancer is still ongoing. Hopefully we can see some light that can provide us with inspiration and hope.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ProstateCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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