These are uncertain times. We have not experienced a pandemic of this magnitude. Who would have thought a whole country could be under lockdown? That in our global economy, borders around the world would be closed? Where there’s chaos, we seek comfort and reassurance. Typically, we look for comfort in uncertain times, in the arms of loved ones, family and friends, even strangers. But, that’s not an option right now as we all practice self-isolation and social distancing. How did this phrase so easily slip into our everyday conversation almost overnight?
Chaos brings fear
When a crisis happens, panic follows, fuelled by the media. And now with social media, it takes it to a whole new level…as in toilet paper disappearing off the shelves. It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to tap into our sense of fear. Fear is contagious in a time of crisis. Our brain gets hijacked. We lose our perspective, our common sense, and our compassion. But, what brings calm to chaos is looking out for others. Getting out of our own heads and turning our thoughts and actions towards the welfare of those around us. Asking ourselves, not how can I protect myself, but how can I help others? How can I protect others? And in this case, that looks like self-quarantine and physical distancing.
We’ve all had times of chaos and uncertainty in our own lives. It could be a job loss, marriage breakdown, death of someone near and dear to our hearts, or anything else that stops us in our tracks and forces us to create a new normal. Often times, it’s illness, whether it’s ourselves or someone we love. No one is immune to this. So, how do we find comfort in those uncertain times?
Almost 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I can’t believe it’s been a decade. It seems like a lifetime ago and yet at the same time, like yesterday. I still have vivid memories and feelings of what it was like to go through that experience. But, what I remember most are the little things, thoughtful things, that helped me through. Like the warm heated blanket the nurse covered me with during chemotherapy. Like my friend, Theresa, bringing me satin pillowcase covers when my hair started falling out. The many family, friends and neighbours who dropped off meals. The post-op camisole that zipped up in the front so I could easily slip it on after surgery. It kept everything in place and made me feel somehow safe and comforted. These are the things that stick in my mind.
It’s often the periods of suffering in our life that awaken our compassion and help us grow. That is how I started COKANNA, and making comfortable, accessible, and fashionable clothing for women. After my own period of chaos and uncertainty with breast cancer, I wanted to give back to the community that helped me through, to help others going through the same experience, and to make a difference in this world in my own small way.
Living through a pandemic is different though. We’re all in it together. Everyone is in the storm. There are no calming influences outside of the turmoil. The calm has to come from within. Those of us who are healthy and well and at low risk can be the calming influence. Think of kind gestures you can do for others, the immunocompromised, the elderly, and the frontline workers who are working tirelessly right now putting their own health at risk. What can we do for them? How can we safely reach out? How can we make them feel comforted? At the very least, we can practice staying home to keep them as safe as possible.
How to help others
If you know someone with cancer or other condition who must diligently practice self-isolation, what can you do for them? How can you let them know you are thinking of them? Send them a soft bamboo headscarf, or top, or jacket that is easy to get on and off and will keep them warm and comforted. You can order it online without leaving the safety of your home and have it shipped directly to their door. It’s comfort in uncertain times.
Until next time, keep healthy & safe.
Colleen Kanna is a recovering Chartered Accountant and Breast Cancer Champion turned Fashion Designer.
She is the creator of COKANNA Canadian made bamboo clothing for women that’s all about comfort and style.
Colleen supports Rethink Breast Cancer’s metastatic breast cancer support, education, and advocacy work.