We know that lots of Trekstock's community of young adults living with and beyond cancer are currently strictly self-isolating during these difficult times with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.

We've asked our community to share their tips and plans to stay positive and sane during these extraordinary times. Next up, it's Natalie.

There’s been a lot of noise ever since I was diagnosed with cancer last August, and 2020 has continued that trend. Everyone has their own opinions on lockdown, how best to manage and what to do. I’m still here trying to filter and figure everything out.

I’m going, to be honest here at the start I became obsessed with watching the daily briefings, reading articles, watching the news and spiralling into my twitter feed. Suffice to say this wasn’t the healthiest avenue I could have chosen. It wasn’t worth the extra angst and anxiety instead, I learned to engage less, change the channel, breathe and embrace the self-care route once again. I continued to be aware and cautious, but I just decided to be kinder to myself. Besides, when you’re considered vulnerable you will receive what can feel like an overwhelming amount of texts, letters and phone calls, which isn’t always helpful.

Not long after the lockdown began, I had my birthday. Not exactly how I imagined it but then again nothing was going to top off skydiving last year. That being said, I knew I might be sad so I made myself busy by spending it in the best way I know how: baking. I’m definitely a planner and looking for new recipes leading up to it helped keep me sane, excited and most significantly happier.

Two weeks later I started radiotherapy. For me, it was bittersweet. On the one hand, I looked forward to leaving my house, interacting with staff with no social distancing, as well as ticking off another treatment. On the other hand, I had all these concerns. I was nervous treatment would be put on hold or I’d contract the virus and have to stay in the hospital where no one could visit. At the end of it, being able to chat with staff gave me the socialising I needed and I was keen to no longer whip off my top and lay still in a cold room.

Meanwhile, I continued receiving Herceptin and pertuzumab tri-weekly and let me tell you, at first it felt very unfamiliar. Waiting rooms are usually a comfortable space for me; with COVID-19 it suddenly felt very alien. The hospital had become eerily quiet with all the changes that had been made. The treatment room felt similar. What made me nervous at first were the nurses having to wear visors and masks. However, slowly but surely, it simply became the new normal and I was glad I was still able to receive treatment.

After a month of being able to interact with others freely albeit, with a mask on, a void needed filling. It reminded me how I managed through chemotherapy: by having something to look forward to. So I made plans.

I pretty much plan my life around food. I’m the person who enjoys checking out menus before going out to eat. I also wanted weekends to still feel like ‘weekends’. Every Friday we had a quiz night coupled with some sort of feast. I’m talking curries, burgers, pizzas, tacos etc all made from scratch! Saturdays became film night, my partner and I alternate on who picks the film – turns out Fast and Furious films aren’t as bad as I thought.

As part of my self-care, working out daily became integral. Not only did it help mentally and physically, but it also made sure I had some sort of routine. My main motivation was to strengthen my body after feeling so weak and reliant on others after surgery and chemotherapy. After radiotherapy, it became crucial to fight off the fatigue. Initially, I started small: a ten-minute abs workout by Chloe Ting. I gradually increased my workouts and completed her challenges too. The last two months going for walks in the Cotswolds have been a treat and made me feel recharged, even if it has to be at odd times to avoid the busier periods.

Self-isolation has prompted me to finally start embroidery. It’s one of those things I’ve always been meaning to try but never got round to. Turns out it’s fun, calming and ensures my eyes aren’t glued to the screen all day. In saying that, if you need a recommendation for an entertaining tv show, NCIS is my go-to. It actually played a large factor in choosing an online course. You see I’ve wanted to stimulate and challenge my brain for some time, especially not having worked for a while. Eventually, I gravitated towards courses concentrating on very basic coding and programming which is out of my comfort zone and definitely down to a certain character in the show.

Video chats are now, for me, a vital part in socialising and keeping in touch. I never used to be much of a fan; sometimes they make me anxious because I’m not sure there’s much to chat about. The fear melts away because chats end up lasting for hours! Sharing your feelings, being open and honest with friends has really helped my state too. If you’re looking for a change, definitely try some online virtual escape rooms. They are such a laugh; you end up working out puzzles, which would never occur, and strange scenarios. My only advice is to steer clear of the free ones to avoid disappointment.

Lastly, I’d like to leave you with a quote that resonates with me: ‘There will be many chapters in your life. Don’t get lost in the one you’re in now.’

Read more of Natalie's story here