There are times when you think you are out of the woods, only to find yourself entrenched in treacherous grounds. This happened to me recently. I had undergone eye-surgery, which unfortunately took longer to normalise than expected. The possibility of losing sight in the eye unnerved me and great was my joy when it healed completely and my sight was restored. I was scheduled to return home the next day along with my daughter to attend my granddaughter’s convocation. That was when I received a phone call. It was my sister who said that she had been diagnosed with a malignant lump in her left breast. The news shook me thoroughly. It agonized me to think that my beloved sister had to face and fight this dreaded disease.
All at once though another thought struck me — what if the same enemy lurked within me? Years ago, I had been diagnosed with a benign lump on my right breast. It irked me that I was thinking about myself when my sister was suffering, but a voice within me urged me to confide my fears to my doctor-daughter.
My worst expectations were confirmed when I did so. Not only did she suspect a change in the benign lump but also found a sinister one in the left breast. She swung into action at once and had a battery of tests carried out that very afternoon. The next day biopsies were done. The results of the biopsies confirmed our suspicions. Both lumps were cancerous and I had to have radical surgery. To say I was devastated is to put things mildly. A surge of emotions engulfed me, leaving me completely at sea.
I felt as though I had been robbed of my identity, stripped of all reasoning and faith. All I could ask was, ‘Why me?’. It did not help that my sister was in a similar situation. The surgery went as scheduled. Both my daughters were with me giving me devoted care. Friends and well-wishers were in constant touch. What is more, the doctors and nurses were not only conscientious but empathetic and kind as well. Also, the invasion had been caught in time and I would recover given time and patience.
The amount of kindness and compassion I received was enormous, lending me strength that I certainly did not then possess. This has confirmed my belief that reaching out to others in times of stress and suffering plays a very important role in the process of healing. It is important for us, especially women, to remember that this threat is ever-present. The enemy though, like many others, can be overcome. It means self-examination and even mammograms at regular intervals. Constant vigilance is a small price to pay for safety and