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Survival- Get Your Mix of Positivity & Hope #AtoZChallenge

Survival- Get Your Mix of Positivity & Hope #AtoZChallenge

sSurviving cancer should have a mix of optimism and positivity. It is found all around us; however we often fail to notice them. Just like my friend “S”. I had done an earlier blog post of her battle with cancer. So filled with optimism is her story that I had to blog about her once again.

S was 34 when she noticed that first lump in her breast. A series of tests and a biopsy later, her doctor declared it to be cancerous. S was devastated. She had a beautiful family comprising of two young girls and a loving husband. She felt there was no hope of her surviving and was worried how her family would manage if anything were to happen to her. S was scheduled to be operated in a week’s time. The day before the surgery she sat in the hospital bed with a glum face. By her side was another young patient, admitted with lymphoblastic leukemia. He was all of 8 years old.

In S’s words, “That kid literally shook me up. He was playing a game of chess with his mother. Despite the dry skin and loss of hair resulting out of his treatment, you should have seen the glow on his face. He had all his moves right. Not that his mother was making the game easy for him. She challenged him in every possible way. But I could see that he was enjoying his game, and every move made. I chatted up with the duo. He was scheduled for a surgery in two days time. Despite the anxiety strewn across the mothers face, the child had none. He loved games he said- Monopoly, and Pictionary being his favorite. He plays to win and that made him happy. At that moment it hit me hard.”

S added, “Now that’s what you call being positive and being optimistic, with no fear of the future.  Giving every move in life your best without really looking far ahead. Life is sure full of uncertainties. Whether it is for a cancer patient or for that matter any one of us. Why not enjoy the moment and just be optimistic about the future? Why worry about things which really aren’t in your control? I prepared myself mentally for the surgery as the docs prepared me physically.”

Before I was to be sedated, I called my husband and said, “I don’t know what’s the outcome of the surgery or my treatment, but I am going in smiling. And I will come out smiling, so go get me the best wig in town!!!” He had a hearty laugh.

“I did come out of the surgery smiling. The months to follow were scheduled with radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. They kept me in bed for days. I puked like hell. But somewhere deep down I stopped worrying about the outcome of my ailment. Instead I played Pictionary and Scotland Yard with my daughters. Their smiles during the games made me feel better. It is nine months since my last treatment. Mentally I am prepared to face anything now. I have come a long way, since my diagnosis. That little boy taught me to enjoy every move of mine. I call this survival without having a fear of the future.”

He lived a good life, right?

He lived a good life, right?
Inspired by NDTV and Fortis Health4UCancerthon, this Sunday, Richard and I decided to do our bit for those, who have in some way or the other been affected by the disease- either as a patient or as a caregiver. Being a very informal thing, we stuck to those we know and would be responsive to our care.
During the course of the day, I paid a visit to dear Mrs. K, a 60 something lady of utmost grit and strength. After having lost her husband to colo-rectal cancer two years ago, Mrs. K recently was operated for a benign lump in her breast. She now partners with many NGO’s in and around Delhi providing care and financial support to terminal patients. More than all that she does, it is what she said that showed her maturity level, her strength within and her understanding of life as a whole.
“I lost my dad to colo-rectal cancer 4 months back and I am still not able to come to terms with it”, I said. “It’s probably not the death alone. What is really upsetting me is the way he suffered the last few months of his life and the week before demise. It wasn’t a pleasant sight at all. I know my father has to die someday, but I wish he didn’t suffer so much. The disease literally ate him up inside out. He was a mere frame in the end.” It was an emotional outburst from my end. She sat quiet listening, stoic.
After I had calmed down, she began,”How old was your father when he passed away?” I said 70. “And he fought cancer for 5 years, which means he was diagnosed at the age of 65, right?” she asked. Ok now that is not difficult mathematics. She continued,”How was your father’s life for 65 years?” “Hmmm”, I said, “Well the usual life, earning a living and raising a family”. She asked immediately,” So he had no ailments in his life?” I said no. “Then you have no reason to be upset, “she said.
I was shocked at her response. Here I was grieving my father’s death, and the one sitting in front of me tells me not to be upset.  She said,” look at it this way. He lived a good life, a life a lot of people may crave for but never actually get. A healthy, normal family life with beautiful relationships around. It was only the last five years of his life that he suffered. He did live a good life right?  So now, you decide which portion of his life you want to keep in your mind. The majorly happier one, or a few years of suffering? I didn’t have an answer. I left the matter there with a single acknowledging nod.
As I left her place yesterday, I kept pondering over what she said. It took me a while to sink in its depth. And when it did sink it, I felt different, – a sense of calmness engulfed all over me.
Is the glass half empty or half full,”? A very common theory of how people perceive. It kind of applied here too. I kept focusing on the years he didn’t live, I seldom looked at the numerous years he did. I despite having knowledge of the situation looked at it with a whole lot of pessimism.
Thanks Mrs. K for your warm thoughts. This blog is dedicated to Sunday’s sweet little chat we had over coffee. Glad we have people like you around inspiring others.
Hiding under a wig

Hiding under a wig

This blog post is dedicated to “J”, a reader of my blog. Thanks for sharing your story “J”. 

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fireside Chat.”

“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.

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