At Chai Lifeline Canada we have the honour of knowing some phenomenal people. In Their Own Words is an ongoing series on our blog in which we give space to them to share their experience, insights and wisdom.
The relationships that we build through our work can be reflected in the phrase “in tow” – as in we are towing them and their families along with our support and love. They in turn, tow us along with their wisdom and inspiration. This series, In Their Own Words, or #InTOW, shines a light on all of it.
This #InTow instalment features the experience and advice from someone who has lived this #stayhome #isolation #socialdistancing before – Natasha Koss, fitness professional and nutrition coach. She is also the mother of child cancer survivor. You can find Natasha on Instagram @natashalovesfitnezz.

Over the past weeks, some or all of this has happened to you or to someone you love:

Your life has flipped upside down. Left work unexpectedly. Not sure how (or if) you’ll financially recover from this. Afraid of every germ. Only seeing people through FaceTime. Hanging on to every word of the professionals to tell you what’s next. Perhaps hoping someone will care about you enough to check in. You can’t travel or go anywhere familiar and comforting like the movies, your favourite restaurant or a family gathering. Your child is not in school and you fear they will fall behind in their academics.

You are now living what we did when our daughter was diagnosed with cancer. The dangers of the unknown for my daughter’s life for the rest of her life. You have an entire world social distancing with you –  this will wind down and your life will go back to “normal”. For kids like my daughter, her new normal is nothing anyone would ever want to have to imagine. As a Chai Lifeline family you just might relate to this. Perhaps your child is not a cancer patient but has a medical condition that also involves frequent isolation, fear of germs and a general feeling of not being understood by most. Yet here we are an entire world now all in the same boat at the same time.

Many of us, including our children, might live with a pre-existing condition like PTSD, depression or anxiety. For my daughter, her PTSD and anxiety is so bad at the moment she can’t even come outside to walk the dog. She’s made up her mind that Coronavirus is in the air we breathe outdoors and as a child diagnosed with severe anxiety, it is very difficult to change her thinking once her mind has been made up. This has also been triggering for my husband and myself – the memories of our almost two years living in isolation, fear of every germ and most of all the fear of the unknown. This time at home – unable to do much else but watch tv, read a book, FaceTime friends and family, not being able to go to a movie or the mall – was our life.

It was a life we were so glad to have put behind us and yet here we are again.

So what are we doing to work through this now? Fitness. We are staying active with at home workouts, breathing exercises, eating healthy meals. We are keeping the air light and the laughter coming. We don’t watch the news all day. We make our beds, open the blinds and try to create a routine and tackle it with as much hope and positivity that we can during this usual time in our lives.

We know uncertainty, the pain it can bring and we know strength over adversity. We got through cancer and my daughter, I am happy to report, has been cancer free for 4 years. Once again we have decided just like we did back in 2016 when she was diagnosed that we are bigger then this bad news, we are stronger then our weakest link and we will overcome. Mind over matter plays a huge role in our survival during times of crisis. A positive mind cannot be beat.

My advice to you: take the time you need, don’t feel the need to get up and do it all at once, catch your negative thinking and try to turn it around quickly  – for example  “I am stuck at home”, can become “I am in a safe place keeping my family and myself out of harms way.” Find comfort in knowing the entire world is in this together.

And please remember this is not forever, the doors of the life you once knew will reopen and what you do have control over is how you will respond once those doors reopen. Be in the driver’s seat of this situation within your own home that’s a power no one can take from you.

Stay well, stay positive, stay home. And together we will get through this.

If you are feeling like the walls are closing in on you reach out for help. Call a friend, a family member or Chai Lifeline and please know that you are not alone.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”  Victor E. Frankl


Natasha is hosting a special workshop this evening for us on Zoom – Wellness: Body, Mind and Soul.