My name is Shar Schmidt, I live in Southern California with my husband Mark and our five year old son, Alex. I was 35 when I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2017. No one else in my family had ever had cancer, I was the first. After doing genetic testing, I tested positive for a genetic mutation; I’m BRCA1 positive. The mutation makes me 50-85% more likely to develop cancer. It was hard on my family, but they came together to help during my treatment.
What is it like being a mother with a chronic illness that affects not just your day to day, but also your emotional and physical health? What have you learned since being diagnosed with breast cancer about being a parent?
Being diagnosed with breast cancer really changed how I viewed my life up until that moment and learned what surrendering to “ living life on life’s terms” really means. I realized how fragile life is, and that as much as I’d like to be, I won’t always be around for Alex. I definitely appreciate the little things even more than I did before cancer. It was really hard to reconcile the fact that I have a disease that kills so many, and it affected my emotional and mental health. I’m more anxious when it comes to my health and the health of those around me because I know that an illness can change your overall physical and mental health.
What things have you encountered that are just “life on life’s terms” that you had to go with the flow on?
During this global pandemic, I’ve taken steps to ensure that I don’t get sick. I don’t go out other than walking around my apartment complex (with a mask of course). I don’t go out shopping; my husband Mark does all of our shopping, and does drive up if possible so that he doesn’t have to come into contact with anyone else. It’s been more than 45 days since I’ve left my immediate surroundings. And as hard as that is, I know that the only way to keep myself and my family safe is to abide by the stay at home orders.
What is it like now in this time of a global pandemic and quarantine to have to be accountable for so much more than you were before ; such as homeschooling? Do you homeschool Alex?
Alex’s preschool has been closed since March 12th, so he’s been at home since then. I feel badly about it because it was the first time he’d been to school and he was enjoying it. He doesn’t have any siblings or any friends that live in our apartment complex, so being around other kids his age was important. He also went to church with my mom every Sunday, and he liked being around other kids there too. I think this has been hard for him, but he’s a really good sport about it all. I have a background in education, I spent 5 years teaching at an elementary school, so being a mom / teacher is easy for me! We spend an hour a day learning, and he also has some educational games on his tablet.
Have you had to take on the roles of teacher, sports instructor , other positions previously held by people outside of your home pre-quarantine?
Being quarantined has affected going to the doctor. A lot of my appointments got cancelled, and I had a surgery scheduled for April 8 that got pushed back to June. I needed to see my PCP last week for a new pain in my ribs, but they said they’re only seeing patients via telehealth (video chat). I even tried to go to urgent care, but the sign on the door said the same thing, only appointments using telehealth were being done. I ended up getting an appointment with my oncologist and now have several tests and scans/X-rays scheduled for next week. It’s sad that things are like this because there are still medical issues that need the care of a doctor that aren’t in any way related to COVID-19, but it seems like those are all taking a backseat. I couldn’t risk going to the ER either because I’m sure there are a lot of people going there that are sick. I’m thankful I have a hospital I can go to, but even that was strange because of all the precautions taken during the pandemic. Everything was different. I wasn’t allowed to have Mark come in with me; no one is allowed inside the hospital unless you’re a patient. I’ll have to go to my surgery alone and won’t have anyone to greet me when I wake up.
Has quarantine affected your ability to go to a doctor or hospital?
I use the oHHo CBD oil drops, and they help me relax and I definitely feel less anxious. They also help me chill at night, turn my brain off so I can relax enough to get a good night’s sleep.
What things do you now get to experience with your son because of time at home that you appreciate?
I’ve had to realize the limitations on my body now, I can’t lift heavy weights to work out, I can’t run or use stairs. I went into medical menopause after I began chemotherapy, and had a hysterectomy last April that put my body into actual menopause. I developed osteoporosis as a result of menopause and cancer affecting the health of my bones. When I feel my body getting tired or aching, I listen and take it easy. I’m not as active as I was prior to cancer, but I make sure to move around and exercise as much as my body will allow.
How do you use oHHo CBD in your day to help you?
I started using THC and CBD when I was diagnosed with cancer. It helps to lessen the need for so many pain meds. I continued to use them so that I could use natural methods to sleep better or manage my pain.