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COVID Reopening: Part 2

by Jennifer AnandSurvivor, Hodgkin’s LymphomaAugust 2, 2021View more posts from Jennifer Anand

I recently saw two girlfriends after a while. One was COVID-19 tested three times a week due to her job, and I had mentioned to her my comfort level of hanging out with her due to that. The other…well her family all got COVID from a large family wedding where neither masks nor distancing was practiced. Girl one cautiously approached me, and asked if I was ok with a hug, since she had recently switched jobs and was no longer tested frequently. Once I accepted her offer, she hugged me from the side, keeping her face as far away from mine as possible. The second girl simply grabbed me into an embrace I was neither prepared for nor wanted.

It made me think. Where are we in this pandemic? I personally am fully vaccinated, as is my family and boyfriend. Others outside our circle are mixed between vaccinated and anti-vax individuals. My roommate (with her own medical issues) and I discussed how we approach grocery stores. We want to wear our masks, to prevent germs from others, but also to let the world know that we are not anti-vaxers. But also, it implies that we haven’t been vaccinated. Where do we find the balance? 

I just reread the article I wrote last May about reopening. Who knew it would be another 12 months before Ohio actually reopened? But the sentiments haven’t changed. If anything, this pandemic has shown me the worst in people. People who seem to selfishly care more about themselves or their political statements rather than their fellow humans. 

But I choose to believe people have good in them, and we can see that. I choose to believe we can unite to help each other, financially and physically. 

I understand the cautions about the vaccine, and I have my own reservations. But I also know about herd immunity. And I know due to my transplant that herd immunity is the only defense I have against measles, and a few other diseases, as my inoculations didn’t create the needed antibodies. I’ve met people who can’t get a vaccine. Or those who haven’t created antibodies post vaccine. I’m a Christian, and firmly believe “love your neighbor”. It’s not a political issue. It is a command from God. And so loving my neighbor means wearing a mask in public, despite my 40% lung function. Loving my neighbor means giving people six feet of space in public. Loving my neighbor means getting a vaccine to help contribute to herd immunity.  

And as our world reopens, we cancer peeps remain cautious. Still afraid of catching a cold, or something much worse. Still watching blood counts. Still watching compromised immune systems, and organs working in less-than-ideal conditions. And it’s so hard to see the people who don’t care. It’s a slap in the face, that they can travel, and hug people, and do whatever the heck they want without regard for themselves or others. And they say “stay inside” to us. We did, and we will continue too. Cancer already feels isolating and limiting enough without the rest of the world telling us to “just stay in”. It feels like a personal assault when I see people I know are not vaccinated read a sign on a grocery store door, and still brazenly walk in without a mask. 

I hear a lot of talk about how “COVID doesn’t have high death rates”. I’m glad to hear that. But similar to cancer survivorship, it’s often harder for those left living. It’s hard to get up and show up. Day after day after day. It’s hard to see people ignore a pandemic, when you know if you caught it you’ll be hospitalized in the ICU because your body can’t handle it. 

Please be kind. Please wear a mask if you’re not vaccinated. Please love your neighbors. 

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