Quarantine Tips From a Cancer Survivor

Quarantine. It is the hottest topic of 2020. It is so now. It is creating so much buzz. Everyone is doing it. (fire emoji, fire emoji).

Not all trends are good ones. Remember Hammer pants and over-plucked eyebrows? Quarantine is most certainly one of the worst trends I can think of in recent history. Maybe only feathered bangs are worse.

Most people I know are oscillating between feelings of I will not make it, stuck at home with these fools for one more second and Am I even a human being anymore? 

Unlike most of these folks, I am in a very different place. I am actually a seasoned quarantiner. Like all cancer survivors, I have graduated quarantine school and have an advanced degree in isolation.

I would like to take my skills and turn them into a handy lil guide for you newbies because I am generous AF.

Quarantine Lessons From a Cancer Survivor

  1. Envision yourself as a baby bird who very well might die if she leaves the nest. When going through chemo, you become immunocompromised and cannot accept visitors. You are forced to hunker down. By imagining that your health and safety are limited to what’s in your home, you can re-frame the allure of going outside. Outside is for chumps anyway.
  2. Take naps. Time passes much quicker when you are unconscious.
  3. Consider your time sequestered as ‘black hole time.’ Black hole time does not count on any continuum. It is a vacuum that will be erased upon re-entry. You will find that if you relinquish the concept of what you are doing now mattering at all in the long run, you will be able to find some joy in your current existence.
  4. Allow other people to help you. If someone offers help of any kind, you accept that help.
  5. Help someone else. Now this may be difficult when trapped in your home with few resources, but maybe it is just reaching out to someone who may be feeling lonely. I did this by blogging and sharing my story (read: misery) with all of you!
  6. Exorcise your negative thoughts. This can be done by journaling, talking to a friend or screaming into a pillow. I suggest the pillow.
  7. Self-medicate. This is easier to do when going through cancer treatment, as you are loaded up with drugs, but I know you guys are wily and can figure it out. It doesn’t have to be drugs. It could be wine, pretzels or melatonin. Addiction does not exist in black hole time.
  8. Manage expectations. Create fantasies about future travel, but leave it on a vision board. Don’t get too attached. Remember, you were too poor to go to Greece before the quarantine so…
  9. Find things that define your time in quarantine and enshrine them as precious relics. Did you binge Love Island UK? (I HIGHLY suggest this) Now Love Island lives in your metaphorical trophy chest of things that will always remind you of this weirdo time. Did you eat Kraft Singles multiple times every day for no other reason than they were there? Well now they are a badge of survival, forever. Remember, there is no shame in black hole time choices. Only pride in your quarant-chievements.
  10. Learn to prioritize alone time, or me-time. Yes, there are probably other beings in your home who require some level of care from you, but you are allowed to say, ‘not now, bitch’ and shut yourself in your room. You deserve as much contentment as everyone else in the home. Probably even more! Pretend you have diarrhea, whatever it takes, just learn to hide.

What not to do while in quarantine:

  1. Do not waste your time thinking about the future. All that matters in black hole time is right now and maybe the next hour. Don’t think about what’s for dinner until it is time to make it. It’s not like you are going to run out and grab that tomato that you need. You’ll do what you can, when the time comes.
    • Same goes for larger things, like that vacation in June or summer camp. Why waste your precious black hole time thinking about something you cannot do anything about? My therapist calls this “Futuristic Catastrophization.”
    • I truly take my life one hour at a time these days, and I swear it is what is keeping me sane (hahahaha, as if).
  2. Do not start something new that will cause stress. If you think learning to knit will bring you joy, go for it. If you are like me and know that, at least in the beginning, it will make you want to chuck that yarn into the fireplace, just skip it. You already know how to do a lot of cool things.
  3. Don’t try and do an overhaul on your life/body/home. No one will like you if you come out of this rippling with muscles and showing off pictures of all the rooms you painted.
  4. Don’t assume you will teach your children anything new in homeschool. Black hole time is just for maintaining, not advancing. This goes across the board.
  5. Do not expect the people in your home to change in any kind of intrinsic way. They are on black hole time too. Just let them be the slob-kabobs they really are.
  6. Don’t waste a moment of your time thinking about who the ‘new, post-quarantine you’ will be. You will still be your slovenly self and that is okay.
  7. Do not expect your children to give a crap that you are frustrated. Now is the time to open up your own familial version of the Hunger Games. Wait for a victor.
  8. Do not worry one iota about screen time for either yourself or other people in your household. Screens are saviors and we must not fight their ultimate power.
  9. Do not buy clothes online. Your body may have changed a little and the last thing we need is a ‘these new clothes are too small’ shame spiral.
  10. Teach yourself to not give a hoot about what other people are doing in other households. Yeah, great Sylvia, I am so glad you and your children have recorded a new version of We Are The World to email to hospital administrators. (You are not Sylvia.)

So there you have it. I survived being stuck at home from May-November 2016 while being poisoned and surgically altered multiple times. You can eat your kids’ Pringles and blankly stare into space as they watch Back to the Future for the 800th time.

May the odds be ever in your favor.