Coronavirus and the Circuit Breaker have impacted all our lives — but what about children with cancer already confined to the hospital? Adapting to the ‘New Normal’ provides some much-needed perspective
Please welcome Lesli Berggren, Founder and Executive Director of childhood cancer charity Love, Nils, with some much-needed perspective on what it means to adapt to the ‘New Normal‘ in the time of COVID-19 and heightened hygienic practices…
Last night, I hopped in my car and drove the short distance to my local convenience store to purchase toilet paper – a rare commodity, nowadays. Without the usual lines of rush hour traffic, the hot asphalt stretched out in front of me, and the sidewalks were virtually deserted aside from a handful of pedestrians wearing masks and being careful to keep their distance from one another.
The New Normal
For me, this Normal is anything but New. In 2012, when my son Nils was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma cancer, we quickly adapted; social distancing, face masks, frequent hand scrubbing, and forbidding anyone outside of our immediate family to step foot into our home were all notions that, whilst initially felt foreign and uncomfortable, quickly became part of our daily routine.
As I witness the world adapt and populations of millions distance from one another, I am struck by a powerful thought: this is how children with cancer and their families have been living all along; isolation, social distancing, and staying at home is their normal. Needless to say, their own Old Normal is very much a thing of the past – whilst regular use of hand sanitiser and high hygiene standards remain the same, these children are now more isolated than ever. Their already-severely-suppressed immune systems cannot risk coming into contact with COVID-19, and as such, all of the community support, visitors, and activities that were previously on offer to help them maintain some sense of normality have been cut off from them.
With the incredible support of the LOVE, NILS community, we have adapted many of our programmes to ensure that we can continue to support these children as much as possible. We have donated 2,000 masks for children with cancer and their caregivers at NUH; our Pen Pal Program is stronger than ever, with students from Dulwich College sending letters of love and encouragement to the children and staff at NUH’s children’s cancer ward; and we are doing small, sanitised toy drops to the hospitals twice monthly.
This New Normal is, in many ways, a beautiful thing. It has brought out the good in so many, and I am, as always, so grateful for the people who continue to support LOVE, NILS in our mission to provide guidance to children with cancer and their families.
When I reflect on the time that Nils was ill, the one positive thought I am often struck with is that it forced me to live in the moment; time stood still. This is a time to reflect, be grateful, and explore what might be possible. We can all change the world – whether that’s in our community, work, with our family, or even on a personal level.
Having lived through The New Normal, I remind you all that there is hope, and we will persevere. We are resilient and kind, and we will hug our friends and family a little tighter the next time we are able.
Take care and stay safe.
To get involved with Love, Nils visit www.lovenils.org/volunteer
Read more: Sassy Mama Supports: Love, Nils Childhood Cancer Charity in Singapore