I’m writing this on Monday, March 16 – just hours after Gov. Tom Wolf announced a shutdown of businesses across Pennsylvania in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
I’m also writing this just minutes after I read a series of posts on Facebook criticizing the governor for taking this action.
I understand the frustration of small business owners, who – through no fault of their own – will lose money, a lot of money, over the next few weeks.
I understand the frustration of thousands of people who work for those businesses, who – through no fault of their own – will lose money, a lot of money, over the next few weeks. Money used to pay the mortgage or the light bill, make the car payment – not to mention buy food for their families.
I get it. I really do. But here’s the thing. The governor’s action might save my life and thousands of other lives. And I can’t put a price tag on that.
I have cancer. If you’re read my columns in this space, you know that I have spent nearly the past six years fighting a battle against a disease that does not care how much money I have, or how important my business is to my life.
I had my latest treatment Monday, and my oncologist shared with me the results of my latest PT Scan, which revealed that at this moment, on this particular Monday, there is no evidence of lymphoma anywhere in my body.
Great news! News that is only possible because of the drug I have been taking for nearly six years.
An amazing drug. A life-saving drug.
A drug, just as most cancer drugs, that wipes out most, if not all, of my body’s and my fellow cancer patients’ immune systems. Systems that would give us an excellent chance to beat the coronavirus if we were to get infected with it.
Except it won’t. If I get coronavirus at my age (I just turned 68), the odds would be decidedly against me surviving it. I am among the millions of Americans who literally don’t stand a chance against this killer.
Through no fault of our own.
Think about that. If Gov. Wolf had not taken the action he did, millions of Pennsylvanians would be free to go where they want, shop where they want, dine where they want. Life would be normal. Except for people like me.
I know that I can help protect myself by staying away from places where people congregate. I know I can stay home. But guess what? Even if I stay away from places in the “danger zone,” I could find myself among people who continued to go out for dinner, or stopped in their favorite watering hole for a drink, or went to work when they weren’t really feeling all that well.
I might be doing nothing more than walking down the street. Walking past someone who – even though they don’t know it – is carrying the coronavirus. A virus that would attack my defenseless body.
A body that is cancer free today. A body that would be infected with a deadly virus tomorrow. Through no fault of my own.
I can’t keep you from enjoying your life as you always have. I would not want to keep you from the joy of being healthy. All I ask is that you think about people like me.
Think about what giving all of us a chance to celebrate another birthday, or anniversary, or birth of a child or grandchild. A chance to keep fighting against the cancer that may one day end our lives.
A chance to avoid the disease that is wiping out lives across the globe.
A chance to live. Instead of becoming a victim of this virus.
Through no fault of our own.