The following weeks made it clear that I would not be returning to the office any time soon – or to libraries, shops, movie theaters or restaurants for that matter. Life as I’d known it was suddenly on pause.
As I continue to adjust to life during the coronavirus, a reality that seemingly changed overnight, I am feeling more alone and unsettled than ever before. As a cancer survivor, this period of uncertainty brings me back to the deep isolation I felt when I was going through treatment.
When I was diagnosed, in addition to the physical isolation one may endure while going through treatment, I felt emotionally isolated. I am a first-generation Chinese American, and in my culture, you do not talk about cancer. I couldn’t discuss it with my family or friends, and I felt deeply alone during one of the hardest and most anxiety-inducing times in my life. Befriending fellow cancer survivors and leveraging the power of the online community was what helped me find my voice and cope during what I call my lowest point.
That was eight years ago, and the community I grew around me brought me back to life in many ways. In fact, the deep feelings of isolation and anxiety had almost become a distant memory in the eight years since I have been in remission. But that’s no more.
When we were ordered to stay-at-home due to the pandemic, I was once again alone, living in fear and wondering if life would ever be the same. I am extremely fortunate that I am in a good place health-wise, but as someone who is immunocompromised, the risks and uncertainties I and so many like me face are too many to count and can affect every facet of our lives. It’s hard for me to make sense of it all, and that scares me.