October /Breast Cancer Month
A Story of Hope
Writing this piece has taken longer than I thought. I am not sure if this will be of any interest or of value to anyone. Yet I have put this together to reach out to those who are to dwell on the misfortune of fighting cancer. This would be a small packet of hope to those who are battling breast cancer in the month of the pink ribbon.
It was 24 Feb 2013, a Sunday around 11 am. I was sipping steaming coffee in a CCD outlet and my mind was brewing with worrisome thoughts. The mammogram technician across the road insisted that I came back for an ultrasound and the doctor would be certainly coming in. Her insistence and my health condition for nearly a year confirmed that an intruder was playing havoc in my body. All that was needed was a formal printed report which I received the same day. I did not try to learn the name of this young mammogram technician but to this day I thank her for her insistence to have me back .But for her I would have boarded the flight that night to San Francisco to attend a team meeting with rest of the tests waiting for my return.
Everything that happened thereafter was very typical. Family was making rounds of hospitals seeking second opinion, going in for more confirmatory tests, finding the best doctor in the city. Thankfully we quickly decided to have my treatment done at the BGS Global Hospital, Bangalore. I must admit that the hospital has an amazing team of oncologists, nursing staff and support team who instill confidence and hope in you. The fitness tests were swiftly completed and I was wheeled out of the operation theatre on 1st March with the cancerous mass removed. Time is a crucial factor in determining how successful the battle with cancer is. An early diagnosis makes cancer not only treatable but also curable.
Many women like me are kind of insane for we can’t figure out what is good for us. We never know what duty hours are and clock each minute with selflessness at home and at work place. It is only when you are pronounced of any major illness that you are repentant of not heeding the early signals and warnings that the human body sends to the conscious being.
It says “Discipline and Act immediately!”
Troubled, conflicted and despaired I was, like never before .But further overdue concern of the dilemma of why I was chosen would only make things worse. I resolved to put aside memories of two of my close friends losing their battle to cancer, and move away from people who made me believe that cancer was cataclysmic. I actually wanted to live on for I felt I had still unfinished business in this world more as a mother. The irony was that if I was not too young to crave for life I was neither too old to die. I had turned fifty, three years back. In the fight with cancer there is little place for self-pity. I had to steel and fortify myself for the eight chemotherapies and 33 radiations, for my report said that the disease was in stage three. I heeded every word the team of doctors had to say. One profound statement that helped my treatment remain on track was “Keep yourself away from infections or else we would spend more time treating your infection rather than treating cancer”.
The effect of chemo therapy sweeps you of your senses and feet. A total devastation rips through your body and you are asked to repair it quickly to have your next cycle of chemotherapy. How can you eat when you can hardly digest food? How difficult it is to expect someone to give you freshly cooked food every few hours for six months? What it means to be discussed in low voices about your physical appearance when you have lost your tresses and eyebrows?
At such a time I took deep refuge in my work both official and domestic. It helped me establish self-worth and an assurance that I can do everything if not more than a healthy person, of course interspersed with brief periods of rest. I just took a couple of days off around chemotherapy and kept myself deeply immersed in work not with a feeling of being indispensable but with a fear of getting dependent on others.
Confidence and gratitude were a very important part of my life and to this I now added a high dose of positive thoughts. I am ever grateful to God for helping me decide to go ahead for the medical coverage scheme a few years earlier and giving me the support of family and friends. Today in the first line of thoughts I strongly recommend each one of you reading this piece to get every member of the family medically insured.
This month a year has passed and I have survived cancer! I return regularly to my doctors not only for medical checkups but also to extend my help to those who are battling cancer or have survived the ordeal but are fighting a sense of loneliness and fear.
Interestingly a close friend of mine asked me a very profound question just a couple of days back.
Can a cancer survivor contribute as much as before? My answer to this is in the words of G.K. Chesterton
“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
Feel free to reach me with your comments and queries at firstname.lastname@example.org