Last week, on World Cancer Day, I finally decided to muster my courage and pick up my pen again. Reminiscing about the association with cancer and the will to fight it, I have seen it quite closely in the family.
Long back, I had written a note on my Facebook page, about my aunt who had struggled with the disease. It has been 9 years since I revisited it and read it. It was about an evening spent with her, where I could sense that she was tired in her body and her soul. Her ever-bright smile was fading away and she was worried about her kids, more than herself. She could not survive even after fighting against it for two long years. What a well-spirited and beautiful lady she was, both from the inside and out.
I remember writing the note as a consolation to myself, knowing that we were all praying for her, and acknowledging that we did understand her journey through the difficult times.
Come year 2019, we remember her in great spirit, with an engaging smile. Her spirit has managed to spread across the lineage as we look back at the great memories we had with her. However, two months back, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer myself, it came as a consternation, leaving us all in a soup of confusion. My family was particularly impacted because they had already witnessed a worse chapter in our lives. The timing was impeccable, I had left my job for a lesser known future where this was definitely not on my planned list of actions. Nevertheless, I went ahead and started seeing the doctors.
Initially, it was difficult to accept that it has struck me, so soon, at this juncture! It was one of the rarest forms of malignancies found in the breast carcinoma, something which occurred in older women. Everyone in my family started reading about it and discussed it at length, but this just worsened my condition and made me worry more about the situation.
I met some brilliant doctors who were experts in their fields, and people who encouraged me to face the disease head-on. One day, when I was preparing for my PET-CT scan, something amazing happened. Just when I was about to rush out of the changing room, a calm-looking old lady entered and started a conversation with me, much to my annoyance. She asked me why I was there. I looked down on the floor and told her that I had a scan due that day.
“Which body part is suspicious in your case?”
“My right breast”, I said. I was uncomfortable discussing it with a stranger.
She looked me in the eyes, smiled widely and said, “I have been fighting my thyroid cancer for 20 years just because I laugh in the face of the disease. I must tell you young lady, keep smiling each day, laugh as much as you can. You will emerge victorious.” I smiled at her, this time genuinely. She was God’s messenger!
I have now been through two surgeries for the lump removal. My body does look different, but it is unique and extraordinary. To see it mould in a new shape is wonderful. I have started with my chemotherapy, so, down by one cycle now. Believe me, it was awful, but knowing that the medicine will renew my body, and literally, each of my body cells would be reborn, the whole procedure amazes me to the core.
Until now, my husband stood as a rock solid support and never did he let me feel any lesser than I was. My sister calls me every day to remind me that I am a healthy person who has already won over the malignancy once growing in my body. My mother asks me to meditate to keep calm, and my mother-in-law feeds me the best cooked food in the world.
Why am I making you read my personal diary-like note? Well, that is to let you all know that life is indeed a wonderful force. And to urge you all to openly talk about the C-disease. By stigmatising a discussion around it or living in denial that it can never strike us would only make the detection and treatment worse.
It is also a note to myself to keep reminding me that “I am healthy and thriving”, “I am healing”. The beautiful sunshine is reviving my inner core. I tell myself every day that I have many more smiles to spread around and a great lot of my mom’s sarees to adorn.
And, my doctor thinks that the new haircut I have got, to withstand the side-effects of chemotherapy, is awesome!
Crafted with brevity for select stories to make certain you see what others don't; sent every Friday
Two exclusive fortnightly newsletters, sent on Saturday alternately
a) Reel and Real with Rony Patra
b) Mixer with Ayush Garg