Everything is changing, yet nothing is

Still locked down in my locally-imposed (but weakly-enforced) quarantine at home in hopes of limiting the spread of Covid-19. I’m going a little crazy being at home but my fear of bringing home the virus to my husband is much greater. I can barely tell what day it is anymore.

Yet some things are changing. My husband is no longer on chemo, recommended by his oncologist as a break but my husband was going to ask for it anyway. The risk of exposure to the virus by going to his large university hospital is too great. Plus, my husband wanted to take a break from it to allow his immune system to come back up.

He’s still NED, no evidence of disease. I guess that’s what they used to call remission but they don’t use that word in stage IV. It’s assumed that the cancer will come back, they just don’t know when. The chemo was supposed to marginally reduce the chances of its return.

But now his cancer treatment is on hold because of Covid-19. I guess this will answer the question that’s always been in the back of my mind anyway: what if he didn’t continue chemo?

Here’s where I feel like an optimistic idiot: they say there’s a 70-80 percent chance of the cancer coming back without chemo. But why shouldn’t I assume that he can be in the 20-30 percent in whom it doesn’t come back? There was only a 40 percent chance that the fertility drug I took to conceive my first child would work at all and it worked the very first cycle. The odds that my third child would have been conceived at all were even smaller yet considering both my fertility history and my husband’s vasectomy.

I’m a believer in long odds. I believe in miracles. The fact that I got out of Michigan at all (thanks to help from friends and circumstances that worked out at the time which no longer would) feels like one of those miracles. Perhaps foolishly and naively, I believe my husband can get his miracle, too.

At the same time, in the midst of a global pandemic like this one, my mind has gone to some dark places. What if my husband and I both die, leaving our kids orphaned? Especially once my husband’s life insurance kicks in, they’d have a good start. I believe that we’ve taught them well enough about how to function as independent adults. That was always one of my main goals in how I raised them.

But still, that’s not something I like to think about. Therapy has helped me learn how not to stay stuck in those kinds of catastrophizing thoughts for long.

Still I wonder what the next year holds. When will life return to “normal”? It ended so quickly that it leaves me feeling disoriented in a new world. Will my husband get laid off from the amazing job he’s spent so long working toward?

Because the future is so unknown, I’m just doing the best I can. Trying to stockpile money in case he does get laid off. Helping other people the best I can. Finding a balance between generosity and saving, between fear and hope.

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