Like all of you, I have been following the news on the COVID-19 pandemic, watching it accelerate toward a fever pitch. However, it wasn’t until I went to my regular check-up at MD Anderson this week that I was able to see firsthand just how deeply we are being impacted by this crisis.
The scene at MD Anderson mirrored the reports circulating about conditions in hospitals across the country: overcrowded rooms, as well as overworked nurses and doctors doing their best to care for frighteningly ill patients.
Taken aback by what I saw there at the hospital, I couldn’t help but reflect on moments of crisis and tragedy that I have witnessed throughout my life.
This is certainly not the health first crisis to hit the U.S., and it’s not the first time Americans have banded together to move forward from such difficult periods. When I was around six or seven, polio was surging through the country. At school, we were given sugar cubes with medicine drops on the cubes to help ward off the disease. Though it is hard to imagine now, chickenpox and measles were also deadly before vaccines were developed, and tragically claimed many lives; many of them, much too early.
Similarly, I have witnessed how swiftly and senselessly war has taken lives by the masses, and how the loss of lives affects those still living. I can still clearly remember the divisiveness of the Vietnam war, and feeling caught in the middle. While my late husband, 1st Lt. James L. Hull, was serving in Vietnam, I was in college at Texas Tech, trying my best to manage the divided feelings of Americans about the war and those who served.
In 2007, I found myself in the middle of a battle that I had not anticipated fighting: cancer.
However, over the years I have come to appreciate the relationships and my own internal growth that I have cultivated as a result of having cancer. It has been thirteen years and I am still here. It may sound unusual but living with cancer has taught me to appreciate my life more than ever. Cancer has taught me to live one day at a time and has given me a stronger appreciation for my life and the opportunity to meet friends at the hospital who work hard to live each day at a time.
The same can be true for all of us, as we navigate challenges that affect our entire country. Whether it is war or illness, we have made it through these periods of incredible difficulty by banding together, helping in all the ways that we are capable, and taking life one day at a time. There will be tense moments of fear, as there were during Vietnam.
“Normal life” as we know it may drastically change, as it did during polio and measle outbreaks. But, after seeing the incredible care and tireless efforts of the medical staff at MD Anderson, it is clear to me that this crisis is yielding an outpouring of love and humanity. Now is the time to accept the changes and challenges each day brings, appreciate all the wonderful things we have to be grateful for and keep our sights on a brighter, kinder future.
How have you overcome a difficult moment in your past? How are you finding your purpose and self during this trying coronavirus pandemic?
© 2020 Tyra Manning