The New “New Normal”

The dizzying overload of information. The jarring statistics. The time spent online searching for answers, for hope, for understanding. Wondering why this is happening. The sudden new normal. A screeching halt to the life we knew.

Everything that seemed so sure a month ago is called into question.

It takes me back to 2013

Such is how I felt in May 2013 when I learned my first husband had metastatic bladder cancer. There simply weren’t many treatment options.

And it is also how I have felt over the last week as our country (and the world) have drifted, then slid, then rushed into simultaneous health and economic crises.

How bladder cancer patients and caregivers live every day

In one respect, the whole world is getting a taste of the jarring reality that hit my husband and I (and metastatic patients in general in those days). The sense of uncertainty that everyone is experiencing now is how metastatic bladder cancer patients and caregivers live every day. It is life thrown into chaos overnight.

And just at the moment that message is coming out today, it feels as if all of our collective support systems/distractions are also being yanked away – sports, church, community centers, parties, exercise. Or at least they are being yanked away in the real life, face-to-face form.

And so we are asked to absorb this upending new stressor while being deprived of many of our support systems.

The bladder cancer new normal

Every bladder cancer patient and caregiver has likely referred to their “new normal” at some point after a diagnosis. Now we have a new “new normal” in which experiencing bladder cancer and getting care for it will be – at least for the forseeable future – in the context of COVID-19.

How long it will last, we don’t know. The country’s approach to this crisis seems piecemeal. In a health crisis, I listen to the health experts above all else. And what they are saying is not good.

The bladder cancer + COVID-19 new normal

Even if a treatment is identified soon – which would be very good news – it is likely our healthcare system will be under strain from a large number of patients for at least the coming months.

Talking with your own doctor at your next appointment will help you get a sense of how he or she expects to COVID-19 to impact care delivery specific to you. I know doctors are very concerned about the impact on current patients.

Talk to your doctor

Don’t be afraid to ask them the questions that are on your mind. Is this COVID-19 climate likely to impact your treatment, your follow-ups, the timeliness of responses? Some of you likely already know the answer because your provider has contacted you.

Even though no one can say with certainty how significant and how long COVID-19 will impact the healthcare system overall, your doctor can probably give you a good idea of how it may impact you specifically in the next few months. Just having that conversation can ease concerns and open up more communication.

This is the new new normal. We may be here for a while.

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