Newsletter Special Edition
Our Coping Stories
Volume One
We all have different ways of coping with the pandemic, social restrictions, and the "new normal." We are sharing the "coping stories" of our staff and board members. Please let us know how you are doing!
Simple Pleasures

Dr. Frances Baumgarten
Founder and Center Director
Since March I’d say my life style has gotten very small. As a psychologist, I was able to move my patients from in person sessions to remote sessions rather seamlessly. Although my work continues to be fruitful for my patients, with them receiving the same level and devotion to care as in-person, I think we all miss the face to face interaction.

For me, the loss of going to an office I love working at, seeing my office mates and having lunch at my favorite restaurants is a sad loss. This life change feels different yet familiar. When I was undergoing cancer treatments, I had to walk away from life as I knew it. I was prepared for a one-year hiatus of treatments. The big difference is that I didn’t feel like resuming my life at that time. So, how to readjust to a situation that requires isolation and is totally out of my control once again when feeling well.

I remind myself that this time I am still able to be there and help my patients deal with their life struggles. The cancer patients that I help feel a kinship with me since I share the cancer experience with them. This kinship is now shared by all of the people in my practice due to this shared challenge.

On a more personal note, I remind myself that I am still able to take walks and enjoy the sights of my community, while wearing a mask. I am still able to enjoy my beautiful rose garden, enjoy reading novels, manage to talk, zoom and text with the grandkids and friends, and renew my interest in cooking. After all, food has remained a good source of pleasure, even if it’s coming out of my own kitchen. And of course, I still have the energy to focus on my heart's work, my nonprofit cancer counseling center.

One of the things that helped me through my 21-day isolation hospital stay in 1994 was watching the Stanley Cup (ice hockey playoffs). I had never really paid much attention to ice hockey before, but it literally was the highlight of some days. Today’s it’s football, and I am ever grateful to the NFL for keeping their players safe and on the field. And let’s not forget movies on demand, what a joy to have entertainment at your fingertips. In summary, it always comes down to the simple pleasures of life. Being able to find meaning and joy in relationships, work and activities, so that by the end of your day, you have some sense of fulfillment.
Finding Purpose

Mark Bregman
Board Member
When the pandemic hit in March, I felt a lot of uncertainty. I personally felt at risk, with my age and medical condition. In late March, it quickly became apparent we needed to shelter at home, and limit outside exposure. We decided we’d isolate, and began getting our groceries delivered. I was hopeful we would flatten the curve, and limit the pandemic. Over time, as it became apparent the pandemic was going to last a long time, I began to experience “Covid malaise” – a sense of despair, accompanied by reduced motivation, irritation, anxiety, and similar symptoms. By June, I realized a lot of my friends were similarly afflicted. My greatest sense of loss was not being able to see my family (who live close by) in person. Caring for my grandkids, which I’d done on a weekly basis, was replaced by distanced backyard visits, and FaceTime calls.

Early on, I had been obsessing about getting information, trying to reduce uncertainty. After about 60 days, I began to reduce my news consumption, stopped looking at stats, reduced participation in social media dialogues, etc. I read more (mostly fiction), watched more movies, and reached out to friends for phone and FaceTime conversations. I became very dedicated to optimizing our food sourcing (via home delivery), because we were cooking all our meals at home. 

Changing my focus helped. I also had the opportunity to help some family members who were struggling with losing a parent to cancer, and changing my focus from internal (rumination, etc.) to external (the issues of others), actually also helped me.

It has also been rewarding to invest volunteer time in Fran's Place, helping with marketing and fundraising activity. This is especially important this year, since we cannot hold our gala due to the pandemic.

From this point on, I plan to resume doing art work, some writing, keep working for Fran's Place, and other creative endeavors. Feeling purposeful each day really helps me.

New Routines

Xiomara Romero, M.S, LMFT
Clinician, Board Member
During the beginning phases of the pandemic, the shift in coping was something that I noticed immediately. I could see myself quickly detaching from planning and coordinating future things, which provided a sense of certainty. The lens I was utilizing was no longer projecting towards the future, rather shifting to capture the current moment allowing that ability to relinquish control over things that were no longer in our control and focusing on the small things we had control over. 

As a parent of two school-aged children, there were days that my fears for the future and the uncertainty of the current situation (social, economic, environmental, political) got in the way of being a calm, attached presence for my children. I have strived, however, to have more good days and the not so good days were an anchor to remind me “we are living through a pandemic.” Our family began creating new routines (morning yoga, more family meals, zoom challenges, etc.) while still acknowledging how much we missed our family, friends and outings. 

Although there were moments of disbelief and yearning, there were also magnified days of gratitude for the things we could do to maintain physical, emotional and mental wellness. 
World Mental Health Day - October 10
Here are some resources we’ve gathered to assist you in your coping journey:
Mental Illness Awareness Week - Oct 4-10
Fran’s Place (a 501 (c)3 nonprofit) depends on your generous support to provide our professional licensed therapists to cancer patients and their families and caregivers at no-charge. If you have given recently, thanks for your generous support. If you haven’t yet donated this year, please remember that we cannot hold our annual gala due to Covid-19 restrictions, and your donations are more important than ever. Thanks!
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1000 Quail Street # 187
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Fran’s Place / Center for Cancer Counseling is a nonprofit 501(c)3. 
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