BY DWANIA PEELE, CANADIAN SMALL BUSINESS WOMEN
April 11, 2020 is a day that is forever engrained in my head. It was the day of my final cancer treatment. It was even more special because I didn’t have to dread leaving my home to go to the hospital anymore. This is particularly difficult for someone like me, who absolutely loves hospitals. I have always thought it was the safest place to be because it is full of superheroes.
This pandemic has brought on a new level of anxiety to my life and has made me rethink my level of comfort of anywhere outside the walls of my home. I had four more weeks remaining in my treatment plan when Ontario declared a state of emergency.
My mind was going in circles. With my immune system being compromised, the last place I wanted to be was outside my home. Radiation treatment was for five out of seven days of the week. Each day, as the number of cases increased in Ontario, so did my level of fear as I left the house for my appointment. I was very conscious of all the daily safety precautions in the hospital.
They were being very careful and was quite thorough. It made me feel safe, yet still concerned about the virus as a whole. I was very aware of all my movements within the hospital. I touched nothing, I didn’t sit on any surface, I stayed away from everyone until I was called in for my treatment. I sanitized going in and coming out. I sanitized in my car. I wore the same clothes daily and stored them away from all other items of clothing. Those four weeks were the longest four weeks that I can remember. During those final weeks, I kept thinking about all the patients who, like me, had to go through treatment without a loved one present.
I thought of all the hospital staff and how they put on a brave face and continued with business as usual to ensure that we were getting the same level of service. I thought of the people who were suffering from COVID in the dedicated ward at the hospital. I also thought of all the people who might have been scheduled for surgeries that had to be cancelled due to this uncertainty. All this made me thankful to be in the place I was knowing that I was still able to get the treatment I needed. On that morning of Apr. 11, when my appointment was over, I felt a sense of relief. I felt as if the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders. I felt like a new person.
The irony was not lost on me as it was Easter weekend. I am not comparing myself to a higher power, but I felt like I was walking through the motion of what the weekend represented – a new birth, a resurrection. I felt like I was flying as a drove home. The sun was shining and the weather was springlike. All I could think of is going for a walk to clear my mind and to reset into what will be my new normal.
With all this in mind, I drove towards my house only to see my family lined up in decorated cars with a surprise celebration. What would have been a huge celebration with family and friends, turned into a social distancing celebration. It was bitter sweet. I wanted to hug my family and thank them for all their support, but all we could do was wave from a distance and celebrate. It hurt. It also hurt to realize that we are a long way away from going back to what we knew as normal.
Who knows if we will even go back to normal. I feel like a sitting duck – absolutely terrified to leave my home. As the warmer months approach, I have a great sense of fear that the COVID numbers will once again rise to an alarming number and force us to rethink our strategy once again. Let us not forget what we all just experienced. Stay safe. Stay home. Stay supportive of all our essential workers.