“J” all of 52 years is a successful hair stylist in Los Angeles. As a stylist with her own salon, she thought she knew everything that is to be known about styling and hair cuts. Afterall having trained in the Hair Design Institute, Manhattan, her expertise could not be doubted. But at the age of 49, “J” was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. The diagnosis, surgery and treatment, all came as a shocker and by the end of 6 months, she was worn out and tired. But she confronted one aspect that all women cancer patients go through- losing their hair as a result of aggressive chemotherapy.
“J” initially decided to not sport a wig and maintain the bald look. “After all’, she said “I wasnt ashamed of anything. Losing hair is a bargain for having my life saved.” But being in the profession of styling, when she got back to work, she realised, her looks did matter. “My bald look didn’t really go well with my self-image. I had to maintain a certain confident look, so I decided to sport a wig.”
Buying a wig was the next thing to do, and that’s when she realised how overwhelming it could be. At a time, when you are already going through so much physically and emotionally. “Of course I knew my hair would grow back in time, but in the interim a wig was a much-needed thing. As I had always sported a short hair style, I picked one almost similar. The biggest pain in hiding under a wig, is this constant pricking sensation. Thats why I always recommend people to buy a good quality one. The synthetic material may often cause irritation, especially on a hot day. Another worry was the wig flying off in a windy day. So I then had them neatly pinned down by the side of my ears. But then I also found the brighter side of it. The few months I sported a wig, I tried out different styles. From a curly-haired one to an auburn one, I had a fun time trying them out, My clients at my salon noticed my new look and I did manage to get some compliments for my new look. It pepped me up in the depressing days of chemotherapy.”
The battle with cancer could be quite taxing, both mentally and physically. Sometimes such small thrills, of trying out new wigs, could definitely bring some cheer. Its not about the wig, says “J” , I look at myself as a whole new person. And when I remove my wig, I am reminded of cancer within me. I put it on and I am the stylist in me.
I am a woman. Yes you can definitely say that by my gait and shadow. You also know that by the roles I adorn. I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter and a sister. But is this all that defines me? No, I am all this and much more…
What makes me who I am?
My Passion. It is my emotional connect towards things that I feel the most. I am passionate about expressing myself through words. Words that could be woven to communicate deep down thoughts. Words that inspire others and give them a hope in gloomy days. Penning down these words each day gives me the drive to achieve small things in life. Next, I love the beautiful relationships that make my life. The love for my husband, the companionship we share, the time with my children, and the whole envelope of family bliss around me. It gives me a peace of mind.
I like the feeling of independence. It is all about doing the things dear to my heart, without having to have restrictions. It’s a freedom to express my passion, the way I want to and not the way someone else wants it. I blog and my blog speaks volumes about matters dear to my heart. It’s a place where I am free- spirited, and independent. I do it the way I want it. I also like the “my time” I create for myself every day. It is that time when I spend unwinding with a book or penning down words. A time I don’t adorn a hat and am just me. When kids are tucked in bed and the quietness of the night makes it easy for my mind’s horizon to expand and explore, I read. I write. I dream.
Self-respect is most important to me. It makes me what I am. I come across so many contradictions in my day to day living. Most of it is beyond my understanding. Many irk me. Here is one contradiction. Why is it that when we worship the “Goddess” in all her forms across the country, why when divinity is associated with the “feminine” form of God, there’s disrespect and violence cast on many women in every part of our country? Now isn’t that a contradiction?
These are some of the things that make me who I am. And all the other woman out there too!!
Society has stereotypical expectations from woman. There are unwritten norms on what woman ought to do and what she ought to be. Many times her passions so dear to her heart, matters important to her are seldom looked upon.
When you see a rainbow in the sky the next time, try focusing on a single shade of it. You would seldom appreciate its beauty. Now look at it again completely, intact with all its seven colors. Beautiful indeed, isn’t it? As a woman, I have several shades too. You need to just look. So break the stereotype. There’s no single label- but a range of shades that define who I am.
This post is an answer to my 6 year old’s question… “Where can I find time?”
Things are so easy these day. You click with your camera and the photograph could be there for you to see immediately. You feel like having a pizza, you just make a swipe on your smart phone and within 30 minutes you have it at your door step. Your bank can come home so that you don’t really have to stand in long queues to do your transactions. Book your tickets and choose your seats to watch your favourite movie. You save time by not having to stand outside the theatre trying to get a ticket. Everything is available at a swish, swash or click with your fingers.
Oh well we can save so much time. Yet if there’s one thing we all don’t have with us these days is Time. What an irony!! A sentence that I have often heard people around me make is, “Oh, I just don’t have the time!!!” It makes me wonder.. when things have become all so easy for us, why is it that we still can’t find time?
I distinctly remember the days of the 80’s, when STD was no where in the picture, and making a call to a loved one in another city meant booking a trunk call. We used to wait for an hour or so till the operator made that precious connection. Speaking at the top of our voices, and to our hearts content, that one conversation would make our day. It would leave behind a single smile for a long time. In today’s world of whats app, emails, facebook, twitter and so many numerous other ways to keep in touch, we still are trying to find time to call that dear friend home. So caught up are we in our busy lives we have forgotten to unwind ourselves with our loved ones.
I still cannot find the perfect answer for my daughter. She is bugged hearing people say they have no time.
Where can one find time? Is it lying somewhere deep within all of us? I personally feel, we create our own time. So you cannot “not” have something you create yourself. We have just stopped creating time for ourselves. May be if we stopped, and just looked around us, life would be easier and time aplenty.
“Religion, spirituality, faith … do they all lead you to the supreme being?”.. I was watching a very interesting chat show on television recently where this question was raised by a gentleman in the audience. The show was being addressed by a very renowned religious teacher. Of course, he did provide an answer, a solution to being with the supreme being, But it got me thinking otherwise. Before I go ahead, I just want to clarify that I am not an atheist. I just don’t agree sometimes with a few practices we do in the name of GOD.
Hubby “A” and me often discuss what religion, faith and spirituality actually is. Of course we never really narrow down on a conclusion. However we have arrived at certain consensus that would help us live a good life ahead. We both believe in an unknown power which we call the supreme being or GOD. This unknown power is a form of positive energy which gets us going in life. We can sense this strong positive force if we have a clean and good heart.
For us, our religion is a way of life, with a set of rules that help us bring about a certain level of discipline and order in our lives. We have faith that positive energy delves within us and focussing inwards will guide us through every move in life.
So religion, spirituality and faith are all three sides of the same triangle-called life. All in good faith!!!
The term ” stigma” means “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person”. Well, this is what you get when you search for the meaning on google. But for a cancer patient, stigmas are much more.
I was recently chatting with a cancer patient on a popular forum.He was sharing his feelings with me and I was disturbed after what I learnt from the chat. It begins from the time of diagnosis. The attitudes that prevail range from denial to a drop in self-esteem. A general feeling that other people may probably now see the patient as less than what he was, or probably even avoid. A few other people pity so much that the patient himself may start looking down upon himself, with a feeling that the greatest misfortune has fallen on him.
Ok I do agree cancer is a dreaded disease. But hey, don’t you think it’s better to look at it this way, of fighting it out and being confident of overcoming the disease?Why succumb to it in your mind?
I distinctly remember when dad was diagnosed with cancer, it quite became the talk among our immediate community. People gossiped and questioned about his lifestyle. Probably it would have been nice if these very same people could have walked up to him, cheered him up and helped him mentally to fight the disease out. The stigma is more in patients with rectal cancer with a colostomy bag. It’s not really considered pleasant to mention it to anybody.
I actually attribute this “Oh My God, It’s Cancer !!” attitude to the lack of information among people. The awareness is low and attempts by those affected arent really helping. We need to raise it at a larger level in our society, so that the fear and stigma associated with the disease could be reduced a great deal.
I often stress on one point … Fighting cancer is a game of the mind…. And this game is not only played by the patient, but requires a lot of help from loved ones and the society too.
A very common thought process among many on diagnosis of cancer is that it is the end. The future may often seem bleak and concerns about loved ones crop up in mind increasing the anxiety.A very normal and common phenomenon of the mind, cancer diagnosis does affect ones mind. But still… all I have to say is that.. Chin up look ahead… You are a fighter.
Dad was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in March 2010. At that time he wasnt really given much time to live. The prognosis was poor with mets to more than 2 lobes of the liver. He was said it would probably be just another 3-4 months for him. Of course this news came to all of us as a great shocker. The first question we asked was why him? He was healthy, no signs of any ailment, didnt smoke.. Yet it happened to him..
Slowly over the days, we got going and made up our mind to fight it out, whatever came by. The treatments did come as a harsh shock. Dad used to be depressed. I distinctly remember the days I used to cheer him up and counsel him over phone, pushing him to fight it out. And he did for 5 years.!!!!
Somewhere I strongly believe cancer is a game of the mind. Positive thinking has a certain role to play. Positive thinking probably is the key even to prevent it. When I started this blog I aimed at providing information for all those who have loved ones suffering from the disease. Of course I still aim to provide as much as I can to help those who require it. But I now extend my writing so that it serves as an inspiration. A blog of hope and positive thinking to reduce the mental burden of the disease. A small step to bring about a change within all.
Fighting cancer is tough. And many have been successful. For a cancer patient, every day, every moment is survival. That’s my way of looking at it. I have been reading up a lot on this, catching up with survivors who have had a new lease of life after the harsh treatments undergone.
I realised, such stories of survivors serve as a great inspiration for many. Cancer can weigh one down both mentally and physically. Many a times it could severely depress the patient as well as the immediate care giver.
I am looking out for anyone who has a story – of hope, of survival, of someone fighting all odds against cancer. Please feel free to share the story. It will serve as an inspiration to many others, surviving each day.
You could leave a comment on this post and I would be really glad to feature you on my blog. Be my guest.