She is a Therapist Who Had Breast Cancer During COVID-19. Here’s What She Learned About Coping.

Sherry Amatenstein

Five weeks before New York City went into lockdown due to COVID-19, I was diagnosed with estrogen receptor-positive (ER-Positive) breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer diagnosed today. 

The call from my doctor felt unimaginable: A needle biopsy confirmed tissue that had looked “suspicious” during a routine mammogram and breast ultrasound 10 days earlier was cancerous. I needed to come in immediately for an MRI. I’m a licensed clinical social worker, and my initial impulse was to cancel that evening’s psychotherapy patients; indeed cancel all patients and crawl into bed for the rest of my life. 

But my next patient, due in one hour, had texted that morning that there was “something urgent” she needed to discuss. This was before wearing masks and working from home became the norm, so after relaying my news to my partner Paul, sister Barb, and closest friends, I took a few deep breaths, slapped a little blush on my ghostly-looking cheeks, scarfed a few “comfort” Hershey’s Kisses and prepared to act like things were normal. (Read more…)