So here I am, It’s March 20th, 2020 I just finished my last chemo, (YAY!) and now I have three weeks until my first radiation treatment. The Corona cases are starting to rise, everyone is sheltered in place, and we are all learning about our new normal. But, for ME, if I had to find a silver lining during the pandemic, it would be that I was able to stay home and recover after chemo without having to go to work. And after my fourth treatment I needed the rest. Also originally I was going to have to go to my radiation treatments five days a week Monday -Friday for a month while still working! Which meant I would’ve had to get my treatment done in the morning, come home, eat lunch, then turn around and get on the subway, go to my job in midtown Manhattan from Brooklyn, work really late, return home on the subway, then get up early every day after working all night and start all over again.
Whew😳 I feel tired just thinking about it.
Now because there was a pandemic, I was not going to be able to take the subway to my treatments. So I had to prepare and figure something out.
Something I learned through my beautiful Nurse Navigator Lynette LeePack was for all of us who are about to go through any kind of cancer treatment, you have the option to apply for transportation assistance through American Cancer Society. They will give you 20 car rides or 10 round trips free of charge. Here is the link if you would like to find out more information and if you are lucky enough to have a nurse navigator like me, they can get the process started for you.
I had almost used all of my cancer society rides during my chemo and doctor visits. I still had three left, but unfortunately because of Covid when I called to reserve my car they had to postpone rides temporarily until the pandemic ends.
Throughout my blog I have talked about being proactive about your treatment, finding out what is available to you, and being your own advocate.
Luckily before my chemo I made sure to meet with my social worker at the hospital named Nella, I told her about signing up for my rides with American Cancer Society, but for my future rides she also let me know about a program here in NYC called Access-a-Ride. This is a program, if you qualify, that will offer rides you can reserve 24 hrs in advance to take you and pick you up anywhere you need to go for $2.75 per ride. BUT, It is a process! But well worth it! First you have to call to let them know you need an application, they mail it to you, you fill it out, you send it back snail mail. You wait for them to send you a letter to say you are approved and to be assessed at their facility. You make an appointment, you go to the assessment facility, you talk to a nurse and they decide if you’re eligible for the program. Once you are approved then they send you your ID in the mail. But luckily I had been proactive and did all the legwork before my chemo, because I was told by Nella it would take 10 weeks to get everything in place. So thank goodness I did that because I was able to take Access-a-Ride to and from all of my radiation treatments.
Another thing that is good to know about this program, is if you are going to need rides for a month straight (like I did) you can set up what they call a “subscription” to be picked up and dropped off at the same time every single day. That way you won’t have to call every single day prior to make a reservation for the following day. To find out more click the link below. I’m sure if you live in any big city you can find a program similar to Access-a-Ride. But make sure you talk to your amazing social worker, they are smart cookies and they are always happy to help!
Whew, I am so glad that all worked out. Once that was done, all I could do was wait and take a break for the next 3 weeks and prepare for the start of my radiation. I knew I wasn’t going to be leaving the apartment because I was a high risk person to catch Covid-19 because of my cancer. So what’s a girl to do? COOK and EAT!!!
When you don’t really cook a lot because there are so many amazing restaurants with delivery in New York, having to cook doesn’t sound fun at all. But it’s amazing when you are forced to cook all of the sudden, you CAN figure it out. So I thought to myself what was something I could make that I could eat for more than one meal to save money. So the first thing I made was my mom’s chili! I mean, why not? when your alone! HAHAHAHA🤣
Then I started to get creative since I couldn’t order from my favorite Mexican place, my favorite burger joint etc. But of course you start to crave that food, so I made my own versions. I must admit, it was kind of fun after all!👩🍳
So of course cooking is not gonna be enough to keep you occupied. And here we are in this “🎶Whole New World🎶”, so we have to find out new ways to be social and have fun.
HELLO Zoooooom!!!! All of the sudden we start hearing about this wonderful software called ZOOM, where you can go online and be with groups of friends to chat, have a happy hour, celebrate, or have a virtual party! The first group I met with online was my awesome friend Kristie’s (you remember Kristie) “Friday Virtual Happy Hour” in Massachusetts (that I still meet with to this day). Of course I always had a mocktail or water since I was going through treatment, but it sure is fun to be able to have some social interaction, laugh and meet some really nice people. Thanks guys, YOU ROCK!
As a lot of you know, Michelle Walker Nault is one of my best friends in the world! She has been a major support during my BC journey and in general in my life. We have been through a lot together and no matter whats going on we always find the fun! So during the pandemic we have found creative ways to be silly and keep laughing and try to forget about these crazy times. We FaceTime each other and sometimes we even act like children! NO, REALLY! We even played a game on our phone called “Unicorn vs Narwal” and we are not even millennial’s! LOL😂
With all the social distancing, it does tend to wear on the soul since we all crave interaction with others. So Michelle, being an artist, came up with a fun plan for me, her sister Natalie, her niece Alice, and of course herself to meet every week for art therapy. Not only were we there to create art, but we got to be together, have fun, get serenaded by Alice on her violin, and of course laugh! (hence the photo below which shows Natalie’s version of a mask.)
For our first art project we decided to learn how to make mandalas! Its a very precise form of art, so of course we needed our handy geometric tool set from “Mr Pen” on Amazon.
Although this type of art is precise when making the circles for the Mandala, the best part is when you add your own drawings in between the circles to create something original. Here are a few shots of my creation from pencil to the wall. I was really excited with how it turned out, and I wanted to remember this in the future, so of course on the back I dated the time, place, and my friends to remember this moment of our lives.
Here are the finished pieces of art in order from left to right Michelle, Alice, Me and Natalie side by side. I love that we all have our own style and interpretation. I think everyone did amazing, if I do say so myself! I love you guys! It was SO much fun!
As the date for my first radiation appointment approaches the pandemic is really heating up and of course I’m getting very nervous knowing I have to go into the cancer facility every single day, five days a week, for a month with Covid all around. So of course I’m starting to think about my protection. At this point in time I had not received the masks that my friends so generously had sent me in the mail, and of course the one mask I owned, the elastic decided to break, and of course I had to repair it. Not bad for an amateur.😷
Thank goodness for friends, because not only is my friend Michelle an artist, but she also owns her own Etsy Business called “Livy and Company” were she sells beautifully hand-crafted dog accessories like collars, bow-ties, leashes and much much more.
When mask supplies started running really low for everyone around the world, Michelle decided she would love to use her skills and learn how to sew and craft, safe, stylish, and fun masks for a low cost on her Etsy page to help out during the crisis. I was extremely impressed because she researched the proper way to make a mask out of material, figured out the pattern, worked her fingers to the bone tirelessly to make sure they were beautifully and properly made. Amazing!! And of course because I am the luckiest girl in the world, her big heart decided to send me one of her first face masks, of many, so I would be protected going to my first radiation treatment. Please check out the beautiful decal she added to the mask (in red glitter of course). She is one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever known. She even sent me another denim mask to give to my favorite nurse. If you’re still in need of masks please check out her website above to order.
So now with my masks, hand sanitizer, and my schedule set up to be taken back and forth by car to treatment, I was ready for battle. As my approach to radiation was getting closer, I was sheltering in place with these two cuties, Chicken Bird and Chester!🦜🦜 And like everyone else I am watching the news incessantly and I am catching my bestie Alan Darcy do virtual gigs entertaining us online with his saxophone, flute, voice and dance moves. Thanks Alan for making us smile and reminding us to dance even when we are feeling a little trapped at home.😂
Check him out @ https://www.facebook.com/AlanDarcyMusic
One of the coolest things that has been happening in my neighborhood and all over the world is the 7 PM appreciation and recognition for essential workers and medical professionals every day! Not only is it nice to recognize them every day but it’s also a pressure release for everyone to be able to cheer and clap their hands on a daily basis. So of course I participate every single day! It makes everyone feel good inside and out! And eventually I finally felt like venturing out to see and hear all the cheering in the neighborhood live and catch it on video.
And I would like to add this photo to honor all the essential workers out there risking their lives to make sure that we have all the things that we need to keep functioning during the pandemic. My hats off to you! You are all true Heroes!
God Bless Everyone.