Breast Cancer and the Coronavirus: Kelly D.

Coping Through Crisis: Breast Cancer and the Coronavirus

Kelly D.

Photos by Rathkopf Photography

Kelly was 32 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. Now 41, she is experiencing a lot of sadness as the coronavirus reminds her of her breast cancer experience.

When Kelly was in treatment, she had to wear masks in public, constantly worrying about what she could be breathing in. The coronavirus order to wear masks in public at all times brought up those feelings. It was so strong that at first she rejected what she was feeling, but over time she realized she couldn’t deny this pandemic was bringing back emotions from treatment.

“It’s hard enough as a cancer survivor, trying to bring some normalcy back into your life after that experience. And then you get this pandemic that just brings about, you know, the similarities from when you were sick with cancer and you know what people are going through as far as this coronavirus is concerned.”

The isolation has also been triggering for Kelly. Being an extrovert, she gets energized by being around others. Quarantine has left her in a stagnant place, struggling to find joy.

Kelly is lucky to live near her sister. They see each other about once every week or two for what they call, “Rona Feasts.” They get together with food and wine, and for a little while, life feels normal.

Kelly also tries to get outside often to maintain a sense of normalcy. She has a trail about five minutes from her house. It’s become a popular place with everyone in quarantine, but people have been respectful of each others’ space.

 

Along with spending time in nature, Kelly remains spiritual to stay calm. She has been able to remain active in her church through Zoom.

As a long-term survivor, Kelly doesn’t have many regularly scheduled doctor’s appointments that have been affected by the halt in non-essential procedures. She has had to put off some dental work, though. Kelly is one of many young adults whose dental health has been affected by chemo and radiation, so unfortunately until all medical procedures can continue, Kelly has to manage the pain of a damaged tooth on her own.

While Coronavirus has been bringing up a lot of feelings relating to her breast cancer experience, Kelly has been trying to separate those feelings from the situation at hand. She focuses on the priority of staying healthy and knowing that there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

YSC and Rathkopf Photography have partnered for Mental Health Awareness Month to draw attention to the fear, anxiety, and isolation that COVID-19 triggers in young adults affected by breast cancer. Media often focuses on those in active treatment, but the consequences of cancer can last years after diagnosis. As the world grapples with its ‘new normal,’ these 5 survivors and thrivers navigate an already permanently altered life after cancer now compounded by COVID-19. Follow their stories all May.

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Coping Through Crisis: Breast Cancer and the Coronavirus

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