Please keep us safe Aotearoa
BCAC fully endorses this timely plea from our member group ANZBCC to take a few simple steps to keep breast cancer patients and other vulnerable people safe from COVID.
An open letter from the Aotearoa NZ Breast Cancer Community to the wider NZ public; please mask, distance and isolate to help keep us safe
Dear Aotearoa New Zealand,
Kia ora. We have a favour we would like to ask of you. Don’t worry, it won’t impact your wallet! In fact, it’s super easy – we promise.
But first, let us introduce ourselves. We are a large group of New Zealanders with a variety of backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, genders, beliefs and values. We have very little in common. Despite our differences, the one thing we share is that we have all experienced a breast cancer diagnosis.
We each have differing experiences of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and medications for fighting present cancer and preventing recurrence, or living with the knowledge that is no longer possible. Many of us are still in active treatment. Some are just beginning to grapple with what their diagnosis means for them, others are figuring out what life after treatment finishes looks like. Our Stage 4 members are walking the hard path of living with cancer. We know what it is like to constantly think and worry about our health, to be someone who has to take extra measures to try and safeguard our health when our bodies seem intent on letting us down. Even the most basic cold can be life-threatening. Our families and loved ones also know these fears all too well.
So, what is this favour we want to ask? We ask you to remember, in the midst of current events, that we exist, that we are everywhere, and our families and loved ones are everywhere. We are at the supermarket, the pharmacy, the beach. We share your schools, workplaces and gyms. Like you, we are trying to live our best lives. That person who stepped away from you in the queue at the bank? That might be one of us. The one who looked really nervous when you accidentally came too close at the supermarket? Quite possibly one of us as well. The one who refused to enter the dairy when you were there with no mask and a runny nose? Likely to be one of us. We are just trying to keep ourselves as safe as we can, as well as we can, and as alive as we can.
Don’t get us wrong, we know that this is a difficult time for everyone. Gosh, do we get this! We don’t know your personal story or your personal struggles, but we know you have them too. And we know you are probably sick of this whole thing. Us too! We have family overseas. We are stressed about money. We would love to leave our homes without fear. We want to gather with others and not worry. But this is not a possibility for us. At any time, least of all now.
Above all, we know you are mostly decent, kind, caring people. You don’t want to make us feel unsafe and even more scared than we already are. That is how we know you will do this favour for us.
Please, please, please, wear a good quality mask if you are able to. Over your nose as well! Wash your hands. Often. Sanitise when you can’t wash. Stay home if you are feeling unwell. And please, keep your distance. You might have an infection that could be transmitted to us or our families and loved ones that we are in close contact with. Even if all this feels pointless or inconvenient for you, and like it’s been going on forever and you’re sick of it; please, please keep it up. Having cancer, being ill, and trying to keep ourselves safe while undergoing treatment, is inconvenient too, and we are also sick of it.
Thank you so much for keeping us safe – it means the world to us. Literally.
Ngā mihi nui
Love from the Aotearoa NZ Breast Cancer Community
25 Feb 2022