Beating cancer with support

THE PINK RIBBON

Beating cancer with support

I  was diagnosed with breast cancer last February. When I first heard the word, I was confused and tried sticking to myself most of the time. When I had to inform my family, I was worried.

I was also convinced that my immediate family would freak out, act crazy and I would have to drown in sympathy. At that moment, I was not sure what was worse — sympathy or the anguish I would cause them. I was not prepared for either scenario. However, I had to open up to my family and it had to be done carefully.

Here’s the thing — cancer doesn’t just affect one person; it affects the entire family. It spreads its tentacles and wrenches the last ounce of peace from a  person’s gut. But, then, just like everything else, time is the only teacher and healer.

On the same team

Over the next couple of weeks, our roles became clear. Our once dysfunctional family, now had a clear agenda. We got together and kicked cancer’s butt. How did we do it? Here’s how: My son, Sid is the biggest crusader. He is like a warrior on a mission. When I first told him, he cried and I saw his world crumble. I assured him that I was fine and would turn out even better and healthier. At no point in time, did I let him believe that I had a problem. Nearly six months after my ordeal had begun, during the breast
cancer awareness month, Sid, spoke about me in school. He shared his experiences and went with a slogan — wear the pink ribbon for my mom.

When it came to my husband, the challenges were different. Earlier, if one of us were to fall sick, the other would stay strong — that was the dictum we had lived by. But, somehow, with breast cancer all logic and reason flew out of the window. It was tough initially — he tried to be normal, but he was not. But once we had made the decision to tackle this together as a team, he came around and was there during every step of the journey. Soon, every chemotherapy session became our ‘movie date’, as we watched countless movies (copied on to a USB) on the TV provided in our hospital room.

Perhaps, parents are the most difficult people to break bad news to. But after the initial crying, they were convinced nothing would go wrong with my treatment. The most important thing my parents gave me was a great atmosphere to heal in after every chemo session. The aftermath of chemo is not something smooth. Food becomes a distant memory. Hunger caught me at odd times — sometimes in the middle of the night.

Mom was kind enough to bring me hot milk. When my joints ached, she massaged them.
We did not have gloomy discussions on the topic. We had an unwritten rule that nobody would say the word ‘cancer’. This was very helpful because it took my focus off my health problems. I had no time or energy to dwell on my feelings. It was liberating and it was required.

I think, siblings are the best friends we can have. My sister and her family and my husband’s siblings and their families formed a strong circle of protection around me. They were all extremely supportive and never felt sorry for my state. They tried every trick in the book to help me stay happy and get on with life.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going, they say. But one cannot do it without a good support system. This is where families play a crucial role. Faith may move mountains, but for that faith to sprout, one needs love and support. That, I have come to realise, is around us in the form of our brothers, sisters, parents and children. For me, it has been an amazing journey — one that has given me a glimpse of true love.

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