I never thought I would live through the crisis of a pandemic. But then I never thought I would hear the words, “You have breast cancer.” Both can derail your life. Or you learn to adapt to the new normal. And living through a pandemic will result in a new normal, much like living through a war or cancer.

You can live well and beyond, and as the years pass, the vividness of it all will start to fade. But the residual effects of living through it will never fully disappear. You shed the initial confusion and fear and settle into a new normal that one day will seem perfectly normal to you. That is, until the next time. But then perhaps you will be better prepared.

It could be any life-threatening situation, not just cancer. Amazingly I feel less stress now than ever. Maybe because we are all in the together. Socially isolating as a whole feels less isolating than alone. I don’t experience FOMO (fear of missing out) because nothing is happening that I am missing.

Other adjustments happen:

You become keenly aware of space and crowds, of time and relevance. You protect yourself from being pushed too far or too hard too soon. Pushing “pause” is normal.

Your priorities shift. You may be more patient about some things and less about others. Something that once mattered may be replaced or discarded.

You grow weary of nitpickers, sensitive (both good and bad) to skeptics and appreciative of anyone who is kind without asking anything back from you.

You realize the illness that struck you or a loved one could return and even manifest its ugliness in another way…or not. Vaccines and eradication aside, there are no guarantees

But then what really is a “guarantee” other than the sun rises and sets every day. Until then you lean on your resolve and resilience. You become resourceful and more ready and respectful of your health and your surrounding. You hope others will do the same.