I don’t really want to talk about the beer flu because it’s not my thing and I have no jurisdiction.
But I will just point out that all you people who haven’t had cancer are getting a bit of an idea now what it’s like to not be able to go to work and to have to stay indoors for months on end for fear you’ll pick up something that might kill you…
To be honest, compared with what it was like when I was on chemo, this ’self isolation’ feels like nothing, which is what a lot of my cancer friends have also iterated to me. At least we’re feeling well and healthy and able to function. It feels like a walk in the park compared to when we were on chemo.
I am however eternally grateful that I am not going through treatment now. Many people I know have had their treatment stopped, some for good. Some have now lost their last chances at staying alive, with treatment and trials cancelled. Trials that they fought to get on and are unlikely to get another chance at.
I can only imagine how hard that would be to face.
The NHS also did a bit of an odd thing and sent an automatically generated message out to loads of people they thought might have at one point or another been higher risk of the virus, saying that they must stay home for 12 weeks. What a lot of people have found was that a quick check in with their team resulted in finding out the text message did not apply. Most people who have been out of chemo for over a year are ok, though of course that is not a blanket thing, some people stay at risk for some time longer (e.g. blood cancers). I am not higher risk than any other ‘healthy’ person.
(FYI – just in case you are in the UK and you got the message, do check with your contact in your Oncology team. The NHS also put out this helpful guide to say who falls under the ‘extremely vulnerable’ group that should face self-isolating for 12 weeks).
As for me… Well, I’m now stranded in Australia until Qantas decide they’ll start flying again. They said June at the earliest, but who knows. Some people are saying it might be 6 months before they fly again. But I don’t think anyone knows at this point. All you can do is wait until you have all the information before jumping to conclusions (this feels familiar). I came back to Australia for Christmas because I thought that it was about time that I visited – I hadn’t been back since I left 5 years ago. So I quit my job and thought I’d take a few months to travel around (I had a great road trip, a week in Melbourne and have caught up with loads of friends) and then head back to London in April to get a job and start the next adventure. But alas, the world had other plans. But I’m hardly brand new to the concept of things suddenly changing due to reasons that are out of my control.
Plans change, that’s life. In true Jen fashion, I’m not bothered. It is what it is, what happens will happen.
You may have seen this before:
It’s a good rule for life.
I can control staying at home for now except for the occasional essential outing. This is a position of privilege. Not everyone can do this. I’m lucky, I’ve got my parents who are happy to have me stay here and we are very comfortable and very relaxed and have space (and a swimming pool). I am very aware of the people both in our society and others who do not have this luxury, to stay home and self-isolate.
I can control washing my hands when I come home from aforementioned essential outings, and I can control not touching my face while I’m out (though why is that so difficult?!!!) and I can control keeping a safe distance from people around me (except when people occasionally come right near you in the supermarket).
As Victor Frankl wrote in his book ‘Man’s search for Meaning’ – ‘The last of the human freedoms is to choose ones attitude in any given set of circumstances.’
I can control my own reaction to any situation. And my reaction to this one is to write, play music, read books, check in on friends, drink tea, do yoga, draw, listen to music and breathe. And enjoy this wonderful time to work on all the things I want to work on.
I’ve had to get off social media because I couldn’t survive if I was internalising the panic of everyone from all around the globe. Though I’ve been off it for most of my holiday because hey, I’m on holiday! I’m existing here and now!
I got a bit upset about the selfishness of the hoarders and the self-righteousness of people who jumped online to abuse my friends who own pubs and cafes for staying open until the government shut them down. But as always, there are beautiful people who are looking out for each other and sharing toilet paper (seriously if anyone knows why people are hoarding that, please let me know) and helping out the vulnerable people they know. I went for a run the other day and it seemed like so many neighbours were checking in on each other, catching up across the fence.
So I’m just focusing on what’s happening in my little world of influence and enjoying where I am and what I’m doing. I do hope you’re all healthy and safe and finding ways to make the best of this situation. I’m not denying that these times are really difficult for some people, but for the rest of us, let’s just do what we can and stay home if we can and read some books and create some things.
Much love xx
P.S. Here I am with my parents before the gig we played a few months ago.