VANCOUVER -- Has it really been a year?

A year since I began chemotherapy for breast cancer? A year since I first felt the unrelenting nausea from treatment and then the loss of my hair?

But cancer taught me things.

And even as my heart goes out to those going through treatment amid COVID-19, I feel in some ways that the lessons I learned during my cancer journey helped prepare me for this pandemic.

Feelings of uncertainty and fear? Cancer or COVID, I think we’ve all felt this to some degree in recent weeks.

Physical distancing? Isolation? Yes, chemo patients also do this. I stayed away from crowds during treatment, spending lots of time at home to protect my compromised immune system. It’s even more important now for cancer patients, and for everyone.

Never-ending hand-washing. Yes. Did that too. Still doing that.

A cancer diagnosis also gave me razer-sharp focus, forcing me to take a personal inventory of what matters most to me in life. I think COVID-19, which has touched our communities in so many ways, is making many people do the same.

These unprecedented times have made us slow down just as cancer forced me to do last year. And it was during this time, that I began to notice and find joy in things I’d been taking for granted. The feeling of the sun on my face. The smell of fresh-cut grass. The sound of my kids’ laughter, each so distinctly different.

I learned to listen for whispers of what’s wonderful in the ordinary.

Michele Brunoro

Like with a cancer diagnosis, the pandemic has changed our lives. And just as things don’t immediately return to “normal” when you finish cancer treatment, it will be the same with COVID.

Instead, we will go through a gradual shaping of a “new normal."

What we’ve seen and experienced will stay with us. They become part of who we are.

And whether it’s COVID or cancer, we push forward so that piece by piece, we can regain the lives we had. Or at least as much as we can.

For me, today, I get another piece of my old life back.

I had the privilege of returning to reporting last month (I’m told my colleagues cheered in the newsroom when they saw me pop up on the TV monitors as I did my first live news report!).

And now, me and my short, crazy chemo curls are back in the anchor chair for the first time since I went on medical leave in January of 2019.

It might be a bit of a bumpy ride so I hope you’ll be patient with me at noon and five on Fridays.

Getting back to anchoring, for me, is a reminder that whatever you are facing, whether it’s a health issue, or emotional or financial worries, it’s important to hang onto hope.

Because a lot can change in 12 months.

And perhaps next April you will shake your head and wonder…has it really been a year?