When Anna started showing symptoms of the coronavirus, she self-quarantined from her family within their home in Brooklyn. Being completely isolated triggered feelings from her breast cancer diagnosis, four years ago.
With everyone talking about the coronavirus as if it is not a concern unless you have an underlying condition, Anna felt written off when she got sick. The same feelings she had when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age.
“People with pre-existing conditions, those are the people that will get it hard! And they are dying because they have pre-existing conditions. So you feel again written off because, OK, now my cancer is counting against me because if I get it, I will have it bad.”
Anna has seen Coronavirus deepen the divide between “sick” and “healthy” people. Those that are “sick,” those with preexisting conditions and who are immunocompromised are seen as weak. That if they get Coronavirus, it is somehow their fault.
These feelings of being written off caused Anna to lash out. She fell apart, got angry, and even started to kick herself, emotionally.
Her husband, Jordan, offered as much support as he could, but without being in the same space as Anna, it was difficult for them both.
While Anna’s experience with the coronavirus deeply affected her, to some extent she felt prepared to deal with what the realities of COVID-19 could have been.
“I don’t know why I wasn’t scared of dying. Maybe because I’m already dealing with my mortality every time I go to check up on my annual breast cancer visits. That always reminds me that I can die. It can come back at any time. And it’s a deadly disease. So weirdly enough, I was like not scared of that part with Coronavirus. I think breast cancer prepared me for that.”
Since recovering from Coronavirus, Anna has started to adjust to what we all hate to call, “a new normal.”
“Life can throw a curveball no matter what at any moment. I try not to be scared. I just deal with what life brings and remember to appreciate the basics. People that I love and who love me. Food. A home.”
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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