A Throat Cancer Survivor’s perspective on COVID-19 and Maintaining Positive Mental Health

My personal cancer journey has helped me put this current health crisis in perspective. I guess this started the day I was in Church receiving one of the Sacraments, the anointing of the sick. It was then that Father Dave shared with me an important spiritual message and something I do almost every single day of the week.

He said “Tom, life is so busy we never take time to look around and appreciate what God has given us. I encourage you through this journey, that every day you think of God and look at things differently.” So, with that said, that’s what I do.

Am I scared? Yes! Am I nervous? Yes. Do I take my temperature four times a day?  Yes. Then I move on to living my life. I understand some of you reading this may be in treatment, but for most of you, this still and can apply. So, here is what I’m doing for my mental health to get through this current crisis.

I’m a bullet point guy, so here it goes:

  • Stay Busy with Distractions:  Work, walks, puzzles, organizing recipes, cleaning a closet, sorting screws, or a completing a “honey-do” list (I really did sort screws)
  • Travel through Music:  You can’t travel now but you can travel through Music. Each day listen to music from around the world. Music is an amazing escape and can lift your spirit
  • Cook. I cooked an entire Thanksgiving meal during my treatment (there was no way I could eat it with the food aversion I had). Now I cook and experiment with different cuisine and spices.
  • Meditate. I found a form of meditation very helpful.  Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Squeeze a muscle and let it go… Just let it go!  To do the whole body takes approximately 15 minutes. 
  • Follow a Passion or Hobby. For me its gardening, cooking, and golf. For my wife, it’s reading. Just find something you’re passionate about, and do it. 
  • Limit News Coverage. Whatever you do, limit your exposure to news. Like I said…it scares me.

Stay Healthy and keep your mind busy!

Tom Bennett
Husband, father, and owner and operator of Bennett & Associates
HPV-attributed Throat Cancer Survivor

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I had no idea that HPV could cause head and neck cancer. I am an advocate for everyone I know. I don’t want them to experience what I and my family experienced because we did not know about this sexually transmitted virus.Tina O’Dell
Survivor of HPV-Attributed Stage III Squamous Cell

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