Mesothelioma Survivor Discusses Second COVID-19 Diagnosis

Stories from Survivors

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, I did everything I could to keep my family safe and to avoid getting the virus myself. Who would have thought two years later it would still be around?

I contracted COVID-19 just a few months into the pandemic, and I recently got it again! The kicker is that it wasn’t the same experience as I had the first time around.

As a mesothelioma survivor, that was a good thing. The coronavirus can be serious for current and former cancer patients, including those with mesothelioma.

Here’s what has me stunned: How can the virus make such a dramatic impact on the lives of people, circle back around the world and come again, but as a “weaker” version? I am not a scientist so that may be why I don’t understand it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, viruses can change all the time, resulting in new variants.

When COVID Hits Home

When I had COVID in 2020 it was horrible. Some of my symptoms were loss of taste and smell, a cough, partially collapsed lung, headache, fever, chills, shortness of breath, etc. This lasted for about two weeks, with additional weeks for the lingering symptoms.

I do want to note that having COVID is and has been different for each person. Many people I talked with who had the virus said they had lingering symptoms. As for me, those symptoms lasted for months and included shortness of breath, brain fog, fatigue and anxiety.

Second Time Around for the Coronavirus

My second bout with the virus started with my oldest son. I am that mom who watches my kids like a hawk if I have any notion they aren’t feeling well.

When my son Caleb came home from school coughing I gave him the side-eye, a mask and cough medication. The next day he was shivering and complained of not being able to keep warm. That’s when I decided to test him for COVID.

Before I could even walk away from the test it showed positive! I immediately placed him into quarantine. I tried my best to keep my other three kids from getting it, but it was like a domino effect. The next day it was my other son, then me and my husband at the same time, and my two girls. As a mother I was pulled in so many different directions and feeling sick in the process.

One thing I did notice is that my symptoms were not like what I experienced the first time. It was as if I had a sinus infection. I had congestion, a slight cough, headache and fever. These were the same symptoms as my entire family, and they only lasted for a good two or three days, not two weeks as before. We all took the week to quarantine based on guidelines from my children’s school.

Surviving Mesothelioma and COVID

“Alexa, play ‘Survivor’ by Destiny’s Child.” This is something you’ll hear often in my house. It’s a song I can really relate to. Surviving peritoneal mesothelioma and COVID-19 has taught me so much. It made me realize how strong I am mentally and physically.

A lot of people ask me how I did it, especially having COVID and having to take care of my entire household while sick. Did I mention I was the maid, cook, mom, wife, nurse – all of the above? It was a strength I didn’t know I had. The saying, “You never know how strong you are until you need it” comes to mind and has been proven true for me.

One lesson we can all take from COVID-19 and the pandemic we are living in is to never give up. You may be going through your mesothelioma journey, you may be a caregiver to someone battling COVID or cancer, or even a survivor such as myself.

Whatever position you’re in, don’t give up. You have a strength that you have never seen before that can only be activated when the situation presents itself. Keep thriving!

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