Cancer in the time of COVID: Resilence is key

On this blog we will dive a little deeper into some of those reactions we may be experiencing and discuss strategies to help deal with them. Next time, we will talk more in-depth about the double whammy of imposed isolation, resulting from cancer and COVID-19.
As if living with a cancer diagnosis wasn’t enough…
When the pandemic hit and created yet another massive shift in our day-to-day lives, it didn’t take long for Cancer Lifeline to jump into action and quickly figure out how to provide our clients with the programs and services they needed now more than ever. Starting in mid-March, Cancer Lifeline’s support groups, classes, and presentations went online! It was a steep learning curve for all of us, but it has proven to be a HUGE success.
While we are all missing the connections inherent in face-to face-contact, an amazing thing has also happened. Cancer Lifeline’s outstanding and robust programming is reaching MORE people than ever! Whether a yoga class, support group, or presentation, new clients are joining constantly. People from all over the state are signing up and attending programs. Clients, new and old, are attending because:
  • No traffic or parking hassles
  • Less energy expended to “log-in” rather than “drive-in”
  • It doesn’t matter where you live
In some ways, it is not a surprise that attendance is increasing, considering that the pandemic has only served to magnify the stress, fear, anxiety, and isolation that is inherent in living with cancer. Not to mention that living with yet another source of uncertainty can feel absolutely overwhelming for many of us. The question then becomes, how do we navigate our collective “new normal?” Especially since the experts are telling us we will probably be at this for some time yet.
In a statement published by the Washington State Dept. of Health, titled: Statewide High-Level Analysis of Forecasted Behavioral Health Impacts from COVID-19, there was text related to resilience that sure sounded familiar…
Resilience can be increased by:
  • Focus on developing social CONNECTIONS big or small
  • Reorienting and developing a sense of PURPOSE
  • Becoming adaptive and psychologically FLEXIBLE
  • Focusing on HOPE
Resilience is something that can be intentionally taught, practiced, and developed for people across all age groups (Hobfall , etal., 2007).
That is exactly what clients say they are able to take away from attending Cancer Lifeline’s programming!
Cancer Lifeline has now put together new and targeted programming to add even more new tools to your toolbox as you navigate the COVID-19 pandemic while also living with a cancer diagnosis. Below are ongoing or new classes and presentations:
  • Addressing Fears of Recurrence During COVID-19
  • Tools for Coping with Anxiety: COVID-19 & Cancer
  • Managing Isolation: COVID-19 & Cancer
  • Regular series classes such as yoga, meditation, coping with stress
  • Specialized offerings including presentations on COVID-19 & Cancer by an Oncologist
You can learn more here or you call the Lifeline:  (800) 255-5505 or (206) 297-2500 (Monday – Friday 9am-5pm PST)
Remember…
  • The Lifeline is also available if you just need someone to listen, help you sort out your feelings, or if you just need some information.
  • Lifeline chat (instant messaging service) is also available Monday – Friday 9am-5pm and can be accessed through the Cancer Lifeline website simply by clicking the green “We are here to listen” button.
  • Support Groups (all cancers & cancer-specific) meet regularly and welcome new members!
Hobfoll, S. E., Watson, P. J., Bell, C. C., Bryant, R., Brymer, M. J., Friedman, M. J., Ursano, R. J. (2007). Five essential elements of immediate and mid-term mass trauma intervention: Empirical evidence. Psychiatry Interpersonal & Biological Processes, 70(4), 283-315.