BY KAMAL DEEP PETER
It was in February 2013 that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Three years hence I seem to have made more lasting friendships with those suffering from the disease, the care givers, doctors and organizations that work for the cause. Everything else could probably wait but not an opportunity to cheer a dampened spirit. Thus World Cancer Day and the month of the pink ribbon hold paramount significance in my life. It is an opportunity for confidence building and instilling Hope.
Kay Yow remarks “When life kicks you, let it kick you forward.” There cannot be a greater truism in the campaign against cancer. Fighting my own battle I did realize the disease benumbs the fearless and the powerful alike. It is an intense battle of the mind. When the team of oncologists at the cancer institute after the lumpectomy pronounced that I needed eight three weekly chemotherapy cycles and 33 radiations I was flabbergasted. As I circled off – dates in the table calendar I reached the month of October.
This is unendurable and unsustainable, I thought to myself. Looking into my doctors eyes I knew there was no scope for change. The most important thing for me was to make peace with myself and work on how I could manage my normal routine without much variation. I approached my manager in a well known MNC for approving long term leave. “Go about with your work .I know you can handle it. Let us handle issues as they come by”. His confidence in me boosted my morale and made me feel of some worth. I decided to fight the disease and drive it out of my body. Few aggressive cancer cells cannot over-weigh thousands of others that hold me in good stead. I now prayed more often for spiritual strength and to keep depression at bay.
Believe me I emailed from my ward after the lumpectomy trying to arrange for an inspirational successful woman to address the employees on International Woman’s Day on 8 March, 2013.I responded to mails to keep on track a new prestigious project that we had started. In the same month began my chemo cycles. I was mentally geared up for all the side effects admitting how feeble I felt thirty six hours after receiving the drug. Unyielding I towed my body frame to attend to my basic body chores. Asking help made me uncomfortable. I kept deeply immersed in my work not with the feeling of being indispensable but with the deep fear of being dependent. Simultaneously my mind was brimming with the thought of taking my fourth semester MBA exams in April. Can I do it? A positive nod from the
doctor saw me at the examination center either accompanied by my daughter or husband. The results in
June came to validate that people stricken with cancer are not unproductive and hopeless. My family and very close friends emerged my greatest strengths.
I remained private about the disease unless asked because there was a stigma attached to it. I courted evasion of people who considered a cancer patient inauspicious, kept their children away from my sight, and discussed my physical appearance in low voices. After the loss of hair including eyebrows, I looked abnormally different. The pain and my changed looks sometimes brought in a lot of negativity and despair in me. My mind once again salvaged the situation. As I successfully completed the treatment many of the myths got dispelled. My good judgment sounded me on these
• Cancer is not equal to Death. Cancer if diagnosed early can be treated.
• Medical science has advanced tremendously. Don’t think doctors can’t do anything.
Going to a qualified and specialized doctors is important. Cancer treatment is a team discipline.
• Never compare the treatment. Pathology of each tumor is different.
• Never be in the company of negative people and go by hearsay.
• Cancer treatment involves the mind, body and soul. Adopt a holistic approach.
• There is no place for remorse in cancer. You have to summon courage and be in a positive frame of mind.
• Many times we bring the disease on ourselves by wrong life styles.
• Speak of cancer without fear. There is lot to be done to dispel the stigmas around it.
• Loved ones may desert you but you are not the only one who faces the misfortune.
• Work through the treatment or after the treatment. Discrimination at workplace is not allowed.
• Have every member of the family medically insured.
As I pen these thoughts I am not sure of my tomorrow. What I am working on is to keep confident, positive, grateful and helpful to all. I thank all those who wished me well and helped me get well. As a breast cancer activist today I lend my time to ease the pain of the afflicted and reduce the burden of cancer in society.
As Robin Roberts says “It’s about focusing on the fight and not the fright.”
Mrs .Kamal Deep Peter
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org