I got cancer in the middle of a coronavirus

I got cancer in the middle of a coronavirus

Hong Kong (CNN) – moved to Hong Kong A huge protest day On the occasion of China’s National Day on October 1 I thought it was probably the wildest experience I had encountered all year. Two months later, during Hanukkah, I discovered that I had breast cancer. So, while the global coronavirus was the most difficult thing that happened to almost everyone else on the planet in 2020, it barely made it the top five.

I knew my life would change, but not this way. My plan consists of picking up my life for more than a decade in New York City and taking it to the other side of the world.

The first two months were busy with logistics – finding an apartment, knowing how to pay utility bills, and knowing which bus route was the best to get to the CNN office every day. I felt very tired to go sightseeing, so I told myself that once I settled into my new place, I could throw myself to get to know the city in earnest.

I found the apartment. After a while, I found something else – a bump in my right chest. I felt There was a large, flat, and heavy stone appearing inside me.

Within a week, there were a series of appointments – mammography, ultrasound, biopsy, results, referral. But I knew what it was like before someone told me. I knew it deep inside myself, like knowing that I was in love.

On CNN Hong Kong A holiday party, I got the news I was expecting – stage 2B, which requires six months of chemotherapy, followed by surgery and radiation. I informed my parents, by 13 hours, by email.

My sister, who had never set foot in Asia before, had traveled from the United States to be with me for the first two weeks of my treatment in early January. After her arrival, the plane was delayed from a full-day Raleigh-San Francisco-Tokyo-Hong Kong flight, entered my apartment and went straight to clean the vomit.

Before cancer, I was not a person who loved inspirational quotes or tiger letters. After cancer, I still do not. But the only thing my illness did was to force me to give up some insecurity.

There was no longer the option to hide when I felt self-conscious. The person I was bathing as a little girl was watching me now as I vomit 20 times a day, and you didn’t judge me for that. While I got my diagnosis, I easily felt that a third of Hong Kong’s medical staff saw me naked. My friends soon will see me in my most vulnerable state – with mouth ulcers, hemorrhoids, nausea, and muscle numbness – and they still want to hang out with me anyway.

When I sent my sister on her return home trip, I didn’t know I was racing against an invisible hour. We were all together.

The virus is out, the disease is inside

A few weeks after my treatment, we began to hear news in the office about a new virus making its way across China. We have sent our head of office all to work from our small high-rise apartments. All events of the city’s lunar new year are canceled.

At the time, many Hong Kong – myself included – believed that city officials were very cautious about how badly they dealt with SARS. People wore masks only if they were sick, there were no mandatory temperature checks, and most companies remained open.

Many friends plan visits to Hong Kong to visit me and offer help. But as the coronavirus approached and Asia began to lock itself in, each flight was canceled one after another.

My hair started to fall off two weeks in chemotherapy, around the Lunar New Year. I decided to bite the bullet and remove everything. Every salon in my area has been closed – assumed because of the holiday, with every person in the city taking a week’s vacation – except for one barber. The barber looked confused and surprised to see a woman enter. He didn’t speak any English and didn’t speak Cantonese, so we communicated via the Google Translate app on my phone.

Lillett Marcus Hong Kong

The author at the jade market in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Courtesy of Willett Marcus

He wrote again: “It is bad luck to cut your hair during the new year.”

I replied, “I really have bad luck.” When he shook his head again, I pulled the characters of “Cancer”. He immediately nodded and got to work.

Ten minutes later, I was bald. The barber didn’t cost me.

“I’m sorry,” he wrote. This will be one of the hundreds of times I have heard these words over the next six months. But what I couldn’t express yet is that I didn’t feel sorry. I felt lucky. Fortunately, you have health care, and you have a supportive Hong Kong community – many of whom were CNN classmates I just met – and that I get a good diagnosis in the long run. Sure, I felt surreal. But in 2020 everything felt surreal.

I was wondering how I would explain my new look to everyone in the office, but the coronavirus made this irrelevant. Our office decided to remain closed indefinitely as the virus spread.

This special tour in Hong Kong gives travelers the opportunity to see one of the busiest ports in the world closely.

Travel editor does not travel

Even when I vomit and sleep for 10 or 12 hours a day, I feel itchy Still wanted to scratch. I was planning to take advantage of Hong Kong’s central location and excellent airport as a way to explore more places in Asia, and as editor of the CNN travel department, I also hoped to report from various locations. In the United States, it was normal for me to fly at least once a month. Suddenly, this is no longer an option for me or anyone.

Another friend who recently moved from the United States to Hong Kong became my partner in our local adventures every time I felt enough to get out. We took the ferries to the nearby small islands, Pu Tui’s Chung Chao. Despite the closure of museums and other companies, we all had a rich Hong Kong outdoor life to choose from. We went for long walks, swam in the ocean, climbed hills and explored temples.

Covid-19 was, paradoxically, the ideal cover for disease. The oncologist told me to wear masks, use hand sanitizer, and protect myself as soon as my immune system was compromised, and then overnight it was as if the entire city had cancer with me. None of my colleagues knew that I was responding to emails from the oncologist’s office instead of my office or that delightful social media cases were mostly smoke and mirrors. The expensive wig you chose to wear on the desk only appeared on Zoom calls. Offline grocery delivery has become the norm as coronavirus continues. And sometimes, sometimes, whole days passed when I forgot I was sick.

Although I couldn’t carry the backpack through Laos or relax on the beach in Bali, I got a gift getting to know my new home better than I expected. One weekend, a group of us tackled the famous Dragon Walk in the southwestern part of Hong Kong Island. In the end, we reached the beach, although in March it was warm enough to reach the water. I brought a shower cap along just for this special occasion, but instead I pulled it and jumped, bald and cheerful, at sea.

This year, I learned the word prowl or luck. Bring a colleague whom I had confirmed with some red prick leaves Printed with roses and pineapples – to represent growth and prosperity – as a gift for the New Year. You’re supposed to burn it as a gift for your ancestors, but I had no heart to do that and hung it on my apartment wall instead. I felt like I was living in the eye of the hurricane. In a city with a population of seven and a half million, only four people have died from the virus. My bubble in Hong Kong was full of lily.

Finding joy in an unexpected place

People think that cancer makes you wise. Just look at all the skinny, dull, hairless and sacred TV martyrs, taking life lessons before they die quietly – Dr. Mark Green was on ER, who died on a beach trip in the arms of his beloved, the first popular cultural experience with cancer.

There is something to take a closer look at your mortality rate that is supposed to make you deep. But the truth is that sometimes people get sick. Nice people get sick and stay nice. Rude people get sick and stay rude.

This was one of the reasons I was reluctant to share my diagnosis with people, especially after the coronavirus appeared. Online commentators have argued over whether the coronavirus is real, or who “deserves” it. Despite the relative safety of Hong Kong, with everyone having masks, I still feel a little paranoid every time I leave my apartment. I thought it was better to be ill in secret rather than living in a weak place in public.

In April, when I was four months in chemotherapy, Hong Kong recorded a straight week of new coronavirus cases. Restrictions began to slowly be lifted. Restaurants can fill their energy again as long as they place breaks between tables, the maximum traffic size from four to eight.

The city woke up, and so did I. My hair slowly grew, in patches – legs first, eyebrows, armpits. I watched videos about Cancer patients in the United States ringing bells To celebrate the last chemotherapy session. But all I wanted to do was come out into the light as if it was a normal Wednesday. Sometimes I feel that the whole time I got cancer was a strange dream. I closed the world, closed myself in my apartment, and stopped everything. It was too hot to wear wigs, so I just started bald in public. Occasionally people would stare, but most of the time everyone treated me as if I were a woman who had no hair.

If you had asked me a year ago I wouldn’t have expected my big trip to Hong Kong, she would have talked about all the wonderful trips I would have taken in Asia and the crazy adventures that I would wake up in a city. But life, as the expression says, is what happens when you are busy making other plans.

The disease reminded me during coronavirus infection, and I am still able to get first class medical care and to live in my life, there is joy every day. Being able to buy groceries for myself was a gift. Going out for a walk was something to celebrate rather than a worldly mission. Cancer showed me what a strange and wonderful miracle is sleeping at night and discovering that you woke up again in the morning.

The seasons changed. Sunrise and sunset. My tumor shrank a lot and my mastectomy was to be performed in place of mastectomy. Children returned to school. And life, as it tends to do, continues to move.

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