The Only Thing Consistent is Change

It’s amazing how much has changed in just a few weeks, and not just for one person, family, community, region, or country, but globally. If we learned anything about COVID-19, it’s there is more change to come.

Navigating change is easy for some people. They adapt with chameleon-like sensory skills and thrive in the unknown. For others, change is scary. The unfamiliar is met with cautiousness and child-like reluctance even. For me, I fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, and this new world order that COVID-19 has ushered in, has me, like many others leaning towards uneasiness. It has stirred up feelings of worry around all sorts of what-if scenarios and motherlike tendencies to protect. These feelings are places I only allowed myself to go during my time as a cancer patient caregiver. I don’t like to go to these places, because I’ve been there and really don’t relish visiting that ‘neighborhood’ again.  

The emotions that COVID has stirred up were ones I buried over 2 years ago after my husband finished his cancer treatment and life started to return to some sense of normalcy. But here we are, again. This time, not with cancer, but with all the same worry, anxiety, and cautiousness as we were just a few years ago. As a family, we’ve navigated challenging times and feel somewhat seasoned, due in part to my husband’s cancer. This time we have some insight under our belt that we didn’t have the first time around.

The first insight is to allow yourself the space to have the cautious, worrisome, and sad feelings. It’s a stressful time filled with so many unknowns. The second insight is to take what you need, from news and advice, and forget the rest. All the information will overwhelm and swallow you. Lastly, and probably most important, as cliché as it sounds, we are in this together. As a caregiver I never felt so alone and isolated; however, as a world, we are all navigating COVID-19 together. The challenges, ups, and downs are not isolated to one; they are felt by many. Share your experience–you may connect with someone just when they need it the most.

As for the Mason family, we are thankful that we are together and doing what we can to flatten the curve, heeding all the dos and don’ts. While it doesn’t feel like enough, as a caregiver I’ve been here before, watching the SWAT team of healthcare professionals cure my husband while I sat, what felt like idly by, doing my small part. I’m playing this part again, only from a different angle. My husband this time also gets to play the part with me.

We managed to get our oldest daughter home from college just before statewide lockdown. We have jobs that allow us to work from home, and Internet service that can handle the demand. We take daily walks with the dog. Play games as family, including 4-square. And my husband this time is assuming the role of caregiver, planning all the meals, even gardening vegetables because “what if” rather than for fun. We have tested our skills at baking bread, binged on Netflix, taken up painting rocks, and compete nightly in Jeopardy.

We have accepted this challenge like the one before and are able to deal with the uncertainty of the times, as one of the many things cancer taught us is that the only thing that is consistent is change.

Kristi Mason
Mother, wife, and caregiver
Caregiver to Husband, Stage III Throat Cancer Patient

1-866-792-4622 (HNCA)

I remain optimistic and use my humor as a tool for survival. I’ve lost approximately 45 pounds through this journey, and I had the weight to lose, but I tell people I wouldn’t recommend the cancer diet!Gail Jackson
Survivor of HPV-attributed Tonsil Cancer

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