Lisa Laudico has lived in Westport for 13 years with her husband and two sons. She is a Metastatic Breast Cancer survivor who volunteers helping others who are struggling with the disease.
“I am a clinical social worker and so we as a family are always checking in with each other to make sure we take care of our mental health AND our physical health during this time. Given I have had to be careful with my exposure to germs in general for the past 2.5 years given my stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer diagnosis, our family is used to ‘germ/virus vigilance’.
I work as a volunteer now for a few foundations dedicated to helping those with Metastatic Breast Cancer (The Cancer Couch Foundation and Share Cancer Support) – this work has not stopped and we are working on new ways to connect and support. My husband Tony is working remotely and is able to for the most part – he is enjoying not having to travel! Our two sons (one a college senior and the other a college sophomore) are doing their remote online classes. We all have our ‘work days’ and we have a “Corona” job jar that each of us tackle each day. We are doing a family book club where each week we have a different book nominated by a family member. Lots of dinners together and game nights at least twice a week. We have been doing global zoom dinner parties with friends all over the world and wonder why the heck we didn’t do this more often before! We have decided that zoom dinner parties with just 4 people works really well. If you go bigger – it is a little more chaotic.
We are social people and certainly miss seeing friends in person. My husband is in a band and they have not been able to practice together for over a month. Having both of our sons home for this long stretch of time is very different and also lovely. Our eldest would come home for visits for only a week at a time even in the summer (he lives in NYC) and so to have all of us together is very special and something you get when you organize a big family vacation but those have become exceedingly rare with the schedules of our two sons. What a gift!
Our community is very special and there are many active, caring members of our town who are out there making a huge difference. I was saddened to hear that there had been some negative comments in the beginning of the crisis when we, as a town, benefited from another country’s efficient and fast testing of COVID 19 alerting us to confirmed exposure when it had been in our town for many weeks unconfirmed and untested. But the goodwill in this town always rises to the top. I know of many teenagers and college students who have been extremely respectful of the social distancing guidelines – not all kids and parents have been stretching the rules. Westport is a very special place and this time confirms that again.
I am less worried for my own health even with my condition since I am currently stable and on oral chemo (thank goodness!) but more concerned for my husband given how poorly men seem to be doing once they contract the disease as compared to women. I am now asking our sons to do any errands so my husband can reduce his exposure outside. My greatest fear beyond our own family is with my many friends with MBC who are even more immunocompromised than myself and who have additional health issues that need continual care at hospitals.
We are all very aware that when/if triage decisions need to be made in overwhelmed ICUs, someone with a stage 4 diagnosis like mine will not get a ventilator so that someone with more of a shot at a longer life can live. I hope that this does not happen to anyone. I pray and hope that we do not lose people and that the projections will be wrong. In the end, though, we are a family of hope and I do see so much opportunity for hope – in how we as a town pull together, in how our faith communities look to new ways to support and connect with individuals in need, in how our society overall will look to the helpers in our life at the pharmacy, the supermarket, the postal worker, the teachers, the delivery workers, our nurses, doctors and hospital workers of all kinds with more respect and gratitude.
…we are a family of hope
I hope that we may look at our society and see that an overhaul of our healthcare system is the right humane thing to do and that paid sick leave is something for the greater good. That this kind of social upheaval gives us a chance to see where we need to do better to be a society that takes care of its vulnerable since we now see that each of us can be among the vulnerable at any time. That we can look at how we as a society need to reconstruct how we support those who support us but who do not always get such a fair deal. May we not lose or forget these important lessons.
We are so privileged to live in such a beautiful community that shows its love inside and out. I have so much gratitude for living in Westport and we feel so blessed to have our relative health as we shelter at home. It is a scary time to have this invisible enemy impact our lives but may it be a reminder that we have choices on how we get to live this life. Never let an existential crisis go to waste! Let’s not waste a second.