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Here's why watching those who ignore social distancing reminds me of my invincibility

Updated: May 30, 2020

There was something that was bothering me this past week that I couldn't quite put my finger on. I was frustrated when people were posting on social media about how bored they were because they had to stay at home, else they would risk contracting and/or spreading the coronavirus to others. I cringed when people continued to go hang out with others, because they didn't want to self-isolate. As a breast cancer survivor, it was hard to see.

I finally realized that my frustration all boils down to two things. First, it is selfish to be only concerned about one's inconvenience at saving oneself or others from a potentially life-threatening disease. Secondly, the desire to continue to go out for a game of basketball or to hang out with friends comes down to a feeling of invincibility that people have. And, this touched a nerve for me. Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer a little more than two years ago, I thought I was invincible. I thought there was no way I could develop cancer: I ran four days per week and I was eating healthy, for the most part.

But, I was diagnosed with breast cancer on March 6, 2018. My world turned upside down. I was scared. I knew I would be in a fight for my life with this disease that was already trying kill me. I was also in disbelief. How could this happen to me? I didn't smoke, I wasn't overweight and I wasn't eating junk food all of the time. Poor nutrition, smoke and obesity can all increase the risk for developing cancer.

Illnesses don't discriminate

I, on the other hand, thought I was doing everything right. It didn't matter. I still got cancer. Those people who think they have healthy immune systems that would not allow them to become vulnerable to the coronavirus are just like the former version of me. Same belief, different disease.

The sad thing is, even though I was running regularly (exercise boosts the immune system, unless you overdo it), eating healthier than others were and not smoking or carrying extra weight, obviously my immune system failed me. It did not ward off those cancer cells that began to grow within my body. Please. think of me when you believe there's no way you can contract Covid-19. Think of the 1.8 million people who were diagnosed with cancer in 2019. I"m sure they didn't think they would develop cancer. No one ever does.

Think of how you feel on your worst day health-wise. For some people, that means being dehydrated, their heads pounding because they are hungover. It means throwing up and being anxious -- two symptoms of being hungover. Now, multiply that by 1,000 and throw in the depression and anxiety at knowing your body failed you and your life as you knew it is over, as you fight for your life. In reality, cancer cannot even be compared to being hungover, for a variety of reasons. But, for some, being hungover is thus far the sickest they have felt.

Invincibility and illness

Now, think of those who have been diagnosed with Covid-19. Sure, some do not develop symptoms, so they do not know they have the virus. Instead, they go on with their normal lives unless they self-isolate out of caution -- and because health and governmental officials tell them to do so -- spreading the virus to others. What they don't realize is that others may be considerably vulnerable to the illness. Covid-19 could be life-threatening to them. Once they develop symptoms, they may have to live on ventilators, clinging to life. They may die.

For someone who has faced a life-threatening disease, either by fighting to survive it or watching someone else do it, it's not fun. So, please, realize that you are not invincible. You could easily get the coronavirus or spread it to someone else. And, no one deserves to have to fight that illness. No one deserves to be sick or die.

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