A cancer diagnosis during the lockdown
Lockdowns had an immediate financial impact on Annabelle Gurwitch, a Los Angeles writer who lost assignments and lectures. The advertisement for her new book “You go when ?: Adventure in downward mobility” has become virtual. But when her kid’s graduation from Bard College went online, she cried in her backyard. Her child had worked hard and even started a sobriety club on campus.
“I was so proud of them that they graduated from college in four years,” she said. “David Byrne should be the speaker. There is so much suffering going on and I felt like such a terrible person, upset that I couldn’t go to graduate school and see David Byrne. That is low on the level of suffering. But damn it, we got our kid through four years. The child sobered up while studying. May I say we were disappointed? “
Around the same time as graduation, Ms. Gurwitch developed a cough. She received a coronavirus test and a chest x-ray, which eventually led to a diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer. After being diagnosed with cancer, Ms. Gurwitch noticed that her friends were starting to downplay their own struggles and grief. A friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy, but didn’t want to tell her because she felt that breast cancer wasn’t as bad as lung cancer.
“I had her from cancer,” said Ms. Gurwitch. “It’s terrible not to feel that your suffering has a place.”
A year of lost fertility and a lost marriage
38-year-old Erin, who asked that her full name not be used to protect her privacy, said she lost another year of fertility during the pandemic lockdowns. After miscarriage a few years ago, she tried to conceive, but her husband did not think it useful to start a pregnancy during a pandemic. “Mother’s Day came and I was close to my 38th birthday and it became clear that I didn’t have much time,” she said. “This biological clock – The tick is very noisy and it’s a very real thing. “
Erin said that their marriage was starting to fall apart and she realized that she would probably have to do it alone if she wanted to become a mother. She and her husband are now getting divorced, she is taking steps to freeze her eggs, and she is investigating adoption and promoting parenting. She said grief over infertility and miscarriages was only compounded by living in a pandemic as she gains insight into people’s family lives through video calls.
“A staff member, every time we talk, she talks about the Lamaze class,” she said. “This is great for her, but it’s not OK for me to say that I’m struggling with it. I lost a child. I’ve lost my fertile years. This is one area where I am really having trouble. As a society, we don’t talk about it openly. “