Erica Farmer

Erica was 53 when she was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). Now 71, she’s been isolating since March 2020, and will be isolating away from family and friends again this Christmas.

Who would have thought so many of us would be facing another Christmas isolating from family and friends because of Covid-19?

I am still choosing to shield which will mean I am not going into shops to buy cards and presents again this year. My supermarket will be delivering my festive foods. I will miss the decorations, carols, foods, smells and atmosphere in my town.

I was diagnosed just before Christmas in 2003 and I find I still get vivid flashbacks to my shock diagnosis as if it were yesterday. On the anniversary I will be aware of being very withdrawn and I also feel survivor’s guilt. However, I will raise a hot chocolate to myself.

I will miss all the festivities I would have enjoyed with family, friends and organisations I belong to in the run up to and over Christmas, the New Year and my birthday in early January. I will miss seeing family and friends and the social aspects of the festivities and going to my husband’s family on Christmas Day. I really miss social interaction, contact, laughter and cuddles. A silly thing is that we always put a festive missive in with our Christmas cards, and again this year we have nothing to say, we haven’t done anything or been anywhere apart from medical appointments.

Most people understand my situation, but some try emotional blackmail or don’t tell me about the festivities I am missing. It is not their fault because they are listening to the government easing of restrictions and I am listening to the medical experts and Leukaemia Care. I feel that the vast majority of society should not be penalized for the few of us, but I get angry when I see people not acting sensibly during Covid times. I would like to see compulsory mask-wearing on public transport and in public places.

We haven’t seen lots of our family and friends since before March 2020. During that time my sister-in-law has become very seriously debilitated, but she is actually very high risk to me as she has so many carers, medical staff, social services, family and friends visiting her. Conversely, we would never forgive ourselves if we took Covid to her.

My husband and I will spend the festive period, New Year and my birthday together here in our flat again. However, I will decorate the flat so it looks like Santa’s Grotto, we can choose what we want to do, when we do it and eat what we want.  I will wear my festive gear and look silly. We are not ones for playing games, but we will have a TV and remote each.

I shall be wearing my festive pj’s on New year Eve, we will try to keep awake and have a hot chocolate drink for midnight and the fireworks and then go to bed. And for my birthday we will have a Colin the Caterpillar cake all to ourselves!

The one good thing that has come out of Covid is that it made me get to grips with Skype and Zoom and we will keep connected with family and friends on them and the phone over the festivities. Zoom also means I have been able to watch a lot of very topical and informative Leukaemia Care Zoom meetings which have been brilliant. It is also a great comfort to know of all the Leukaemia Care services that I could access if I needed to, so I never need feel alone.

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