It’s hard to imagine how tough it can be to struggle without power, services, gasoline. And to not know if things will ever be normal again. How to get to get food, shelter, or even try to work. How to get medicine. And how to deal emotionally with the devastation.
I am a New Yorker at heart, having grown up in Westchester County just north of the city, and then in Manhattan. My relatives are all around there. Their experience has been variable. Some with power, some without. Some able to work, others not. But fortunately, they are safe, as is their property. Others were not so lucky.
Having run the New York City Marathon in the past, I was struck by the runners, with the race cancelled, pitching in to help. As you may know, the race starts on the Verrazano Bridge in Staten Island, one of the hardest hit areas. Appropriately, runners with no race to run began using their stamina to take food and water to people in need. Runners from all over the world, helping.
As we saw with Hurricane Katrina, the aftermath gets into your head. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome and depression. Whatever control you felt you had over your daily life is disrupted or even destroyed. Will you ever get it back? As I write this another, smaller storm is coming. More bad news.
There is also resilience. We’ve seen that with our friends Matthew Zachary and Kenny Kane at Stupid Cancer, the largest organization supporting young adults with cancer. Several team members were personally affected by the storm, as was the office in lower Manhattan. They were knocked down, but not out, and are now back in action. There was much to do before, and even more to do now.
While our Patient Power team is not in the Northeast, we know many affected individuals and organizations, and our thoughts and prayers are with them. We honor those who have stepped up to help others. Even in the face of darkness for so many right now, we know brighter days are ahead.
We would love to hear your stories of coping with cancer or a chronic condition while facing life after Sandy, tell us how you are moving on, what you’ve learned, and who and what has helped. We welcome your emails and photos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, we wish you the best of health!
Andrew is the author of the new book The Web-Savvy Patient: An Insider's Guide to Navigating the Internet When Facing Medical Crisis. He is a respected medical journalist and 15-year leukemia survivor. He founded healthtalk.com and patientpower.info and has hosted almost 3,000 online talk shows for patients with chronic conditions and cancers. Many of America's leading medical centers support ...