In 2016, Joe Bakhmoutski was diagnosed with testicular cancer and today he regularly contributes with articles for the CancerAid app to support others. Joe is passionate about helping people who have been diagnosed with cancer to stay on top of their worries during treatment and beyond. This is Joe's story on how to manage worry during a pandemic:
It's a crazy time we live in right now - you can't leave the house, you can't see your family or friends.
When cancer is a part of your life, you can't help but worry how this pandemic is going to affect your life: Will I get the virus? What if my loved one gets sick? What if I can't find a job after this crisis? What if my business goes under? These worries are inevitable - but in some way, you are much better prepared for it if your life has been touched by cancer.
We have lived it, and found ways to get around it - and getting on top of worry really got through to me before my regular oncology checkup. I was freaking out... What if the cancer comes back? Is there another treatment? Or am I going to die? What can I do about it? Because this worry is driving me INSANE!!
It's out of my control - it's all biology and random chance but what about the rest of my life? Am I doing everything that I can to get that under control? Because when I am living my best life, when I am in control of things that are within my sphere of influence, I can deal with the uncertainty, I can manage worry about coronavirus because it's only one small part of my life and how I'm living. Then I thought - I am NOT living my best life, in a way that works for me...
How can I make a greater impact? How can I form even stronger bonds with people I care about? How do I bring more joy and vibrancy into my life?
I started making small changes, tweaking things around me that made me feel more like the person I always wanted to be. Gradually, I started to notice how calm I felt because I was no longer spending time worrying about how things might turn out because I was investing my energy into things that were important to me, and people I care about the most. So when I get to my regular checkup, or when I read another horrifying statistic about COVID-19, I try to apply a filter that works for me. I now call this filter the 3P's - People, Projects and Passions as a way to check in with how I am going:
People - who is the one person who looks up to you right now who might need your support and encouragement? Could you text this person, or jump on a video conference with them?
Projects - what is the one project that I can plan from start to finish that will give me a sense of achievement?
Passions - what is the one hobby or passion you love doing but maybe haven't had the time for that you could do now? Can you do it at home?
This is a great opportunity to get creative… Many of our leaders through the ages who created their most inspiring works during a lock down - Shakespeare wrote three plays (including Macbeth!), Isaac Newton came up with theory of gravity... What projects have you shelved, or put off for a better time? Now is the time to make it happen!
This is a tough time, but you can get through it, and have the life you deserve despite the pandemic!
For more tips and up-to-date resources, read CancerAid's article on Cancer and COVID-19 here.