Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Shoo away Cancer!

There's not a single soul who's not apprehensive about cancer.  The very word has such a power that it brings jitters to your whole body. I am no different here. It isn't actually the fear of What-If-I-Get-It syndrome, but it is some kind of a strange feeling that baffles my mind.  One that is daunting, and leaves me with heavy heart invariably when I hear someone say "Do you know, X is diagnosed with cancer"!! 

I am a bold woman, but this very hideous word "cancer" stabs me every time I hear of it. It mocks at me; at everyone. It ridicules at the science, human intelligence and lastly, human emotions!

Do you remember Lisa Ray's Yellow Diaries, a blog she had been writing while taking treatments for cancer.  I was a regular reader of her blog then, and reading each and every post brought unstoppable tears into my eyes. Undoubtedly, she was such a determined and strong-hearted lady, she fought cancer so positively and kicked straight at its ass!  I've always wondered where she got such a strong will. I admired her for that, was awestruck at the way she held her courage. I made up my mind if ever I'm diagnosed with cancer, I will have the willpower of 1000 Lisa Rays inside me and I will f*** that filthy cancer off my body, cell by cell!! 

Little did I know then that not only one should be strong if they had cancer, but equally show the courage when someone among the kith and kin is affected.  That realization came late, very late! I understood the fear I had was not for myself, but about my near and dear ones! What if someone close to my heart is diagnosed with cancer? How will that put me as a strong willed lady?  My courage was put to test! It came in the form of 2 of my close ones who were diagnosed with cancer.

Actually both of them were women, and they were very dear to my Mom.  One was her dear sister, and another her best friend.  Ever since my childhood, I've known them, and have a special place in my heart too, just like they had for me and my family. Although my whole family were shocked about the news, it was my mom who was totally devastated when she heard the news, both of it at the same time.  Both of these women are really brave and have managed the family without any support for a good long time.  I am extremely proud to have known them.  

But when I had to confront one of them personally, that became my biggest challenge of lifetime! It was customary that whenever I go to India, I never fail to visit aunt's house.  I wanted to see her, but didn't know how.  The reason was that my Mom kept updating me about her current treatment, and her situation.  I knew she'd lost weight, not able to walk, lost her hair completely. I wasn't sure if I could hold my tears tight when I see her eye-to-eye. Eventually I did, at-least in front of her, but couldn't keep that fake smile for long enough. I had to rush to go into loo and have a private space to open my water reservoir.   And then I did not see her eye to eye until I was there, but continued to smile, and be happy. When I was about to leave, I did hug her, kissed her and asked her to be strong and left.  Came back home and again went to restroom to re-open my reservoir. It's difficult to confront them, right?

Not just cancer, the news is also contagious!! At one point, I felt it was like some Cancer-mania.  That's the only news I heard about, always! In a given time, I've heard of 6 people who were diagnosed with cancer. When you hear of someone (not very close or someone you've only heard of) affected with Cancer, you pity them a lot, talk about it, and say "May God be with them" "Let God give them enough strength", and probably forget about it! 

But our perspective about it changes when we see someone from a close quarter battling this disease day in and day out, managing the family chores, trying to keep the family happy, keep themselves motivated, and not wanting to see or hear those pity look or words from the family/friends.  They and their family need physical help to manage day-to-day chores, may be financial help to combat the treatment expenses, and tons of confidence and moral support to face the upcoming battle.  Not our "I am sorry" face!! 

I understood that chemotherapies are expensive, and are extremely painful. And the whole body tend to react and will have a lot of side effects.  Like pins and needles in legs and hands, body pain, muscle ache, shivers, alopecia, and a lot more.  And while taking chemos, they can't stand for too long or do household chores just like how they would be doing them earlier.  The family should be able to understand this and help the patient with daily chores.  If its the woman of the family who is going through therapy they need someone to clean the house, cook food, wash clothes and take care of other myriad household work.  Of course, it's possible to keep a maid help for all of this. But how many families can afford this?

After my own personal experiences, I am sharing 5 do's and don'ts that one can/can't do to support the patient and their family. 

1. Help them with breakfast/lunch or dinner. 
2. Spend quality time with them at their home.
3. Do any help with the household chores like cleaning, ironing, putting clothes on machine, cutting veggies, mopping the floor, buying weekly groceries, picking/dropping kids at school etc.
4. Talk about things that motivate them, success stories of surviving people, and help them gain confidence in facing the chemos/operation/therapy.
5. Be normal, as you used to be with them. Nothing more or nothing less.

1. Don't say "I am sorry to hear this news".  It sounds very depressing! 
2. Do not say "let me know if you need any help". Just do it.  It's obvious they need help and don't expect them to ask each and every one to help them.  But sure they wouldn't mind if you do help them in anything.
3. Don't keep reminding them that they have cancer.  
4. Don't cry in front of them.  
5. Do not sympathize them. Let your sympathy and empathy only be in your mind and action. 

All these pointers are from  my own experience. If you would like to add any other points, do add them in the comment section.  

For all the time I've thought that fear was universal, until I saw multitude of famous personalities that starting fighting cancer in their personal lives. Yuvraaj Singh, Nelson Mandela, Manisha Koirala for instance.  The name list keeps growing, but they've successfully battled this dreaded disease and have come back with a bang - pretty strong and happy! 

This does teach us that nothing can stop someone from living and enjoying a life!!  


  1. My aunt died because of cancer. This post touches me :(

  2. I know, when a close one suffers from this deadly disease, then only the gravity of the situation dawns on us!

    1. Yes Shilpa. It's very deadly to see someone suffering through this battle.

  3. You are still not addressing the core issue: What causes cancer?

    Why do we see people get it more often these days, when compared to the olden days? Do we need to make any changes to our lifestyle/food choices, in order to have a lesser chance of getting it?

    People dramatize cancer treatment everywhere, because it's revenue. But no one talks about the causes - because there is no much money if they prevent it.

    Do you think the doctors are dumb enough not to know the exact causes for cancer? All this no-particular-reason-for-cancer is sheer nonsense. They know what causes cancer, but they hide it. At least they don't talk about it.

    Destination Infinity

    1. If I had to write about the reasons for cancer, that would become a seperate post itself! And as far as I've understood, it's not just the lifestyle or foodchoices. There are environmental factors which play a major role these days as compared to olden days! More heat radiation, exposure to toxic materials, plastics, fumes and fires etc. I really don't think the medical professionals should have any reason to hide the reasons for cancer. Why do you think they would do that? Even if they do so in one country, there are intelligent people around the world. Atleast there should be a news or a rumour that the reason has been identified. So, I would not doubt a doctor nor their profession. People are still clueless, coz there's just no 1 factor, but multiple things that could cause cancer.

  4. Touching post Vaish. Recently a relative of mine on my mother's side succumbed to stomach cancer. He was a young man in his twenties . I have never seen him, but the news saddened me terribly . I really hope they find some magic drug soon. I know they are trying.

    1. It is the most difficult thing to digest Jaish! As far as medicines are concerned, yeah, scientists are still researching for a proper drug. While chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgeries are still helping people survive, the difficulties they face during those sessions is unexplainable! It's like a living hell! When I come to know that people have survived cancer after such harsh sessions. I can only see them as a great role model!!

  5. I lost both my Grand-fathers to cancer. Being the youngest in the family I was doted upon by both of them. It was difficult to see two strong willed men crumble right in front of my eyes. They put up a fight but finally succumbed to it. I used to spend time, during their last days, just talking to them about random things like how I usually do, to lessen the somber environment. Because the more I smiled and laughed, the more they used to laugh. What you said is very right. We shouldnt keep reminding them but we should just try and act normal in front of them. I learnt how to control my tears when they used to tell me how everyone was forcing them to have medicines. I would put up a brave front and console them and then later I used to cry so badly, feeling guilty that I was unable to do anything. At such a stage we should learn not to express our pity directly in front of them. We should just take extra care of them and spend time with them by being with them and assuring them that we will, always.

    1. Very very true Ash! I can understand the loss your family would have gone through. If people around them are strong and seemed happy, they will also be happy. You are such a brave kid, and I am sure both of your "thatha's" would have really enjoyed having you around them to spread the happiness!

  6. My mom in law passed away due to it. Its a pity that its one of the toughest one around but its glad to see so many folks surviving. But yeah; think about it. People like Manisha, Yuvraj were able to get out because they had access to better facilities. I dont know how many have those privileges

    1. Very true Insi. How many people have the access to get treatments and medicines and domestic help?

  7. I was actually just checking out a few of your posts and appreciated that you shared your own thoughts and experiences. I have a quick question about your blog and was hoping you could email me back when you get the chance, thanks!


  8. It is not only the famous personalities, it could be the boy or the girl next door, who has no helping hand at a crucial time like this. I lost some one very close to me.