WHEN I THOUGHT IT WAS THE END…

What I am going to share today was a life-changing experience for me. Those 3 months taught me the value of life, relationships and it further strengthened my trust in God.

Rewind to 2014

While the life was as normal as any other day, I noticed a pea sized lump on my neck. It was on the front side, a couple of inches above the collarbone. I was getting ready to leave for work and I was late as always. I made a mental note of checking this again in the evening and dismissed it as nothing for the time being. The rest of the day was uneventful. Next morning my fingers could feel the lump again and it got me thinking. What was it? How did it come up all of a sudden? Why wasn’t it paining? The first sprint of scare rushed in my mind but I calmed myself down and chose to believe it is not what I was thinking it is. After all, cancer doesn’t happen just like that! Or does it?

The lump refused to leave my neck and mind. I spent the next several days googling about such growth and was mentally checking the probability of malignancy. A couple of months passed away and day by day the size of the lump was increasing and so was my fear. I used to press it very hard with the hope that it will pain but it never did! Boy, was it really the big C?

Time had come to share my fear with my family and even though nobody mentioned it clearly, they feared the same big C that I was fearing.

We consulted a doctor who suspected typhoid. Apparently, this was the most common symptom of typhoid. I was relieved. Not that typhoid was good but it was far better and curable than Cancer. I was advised some blood tests and a needle test. Needle test is when they prick a needle deep inside the lump and collect the particles of growth to examine for typhoid. A few days later we got the results. “No trace of typhoid found however further examination advised to rule out malignancy”

I was shattered. My world came crashing down. Was it really Cancer after all? I was not ready for it. Next several days were spent crying and questioning whether I deserved this. No words gave me enough strength to put myself back together. Routine life continued but the sacre reflected in every action and every thought. After all, I was just 30 then. Married only for 5 years and waiting to have a baby! Was I going to die without most of my wishes unfulfilled, most of my goals unachieved and more importantly was I going to leave all my dear ones grieving after I die?

Wheels moved faster than on. The unavoidable biopsy was scheduled. All this while my relationship with God was undergoing a transformation. From blaming Him to be stone-hearted to pleading for my life, it was full of enlightenment of good and bad deeds in the past.

The day of biopsy dawned. I cannot describe the feeling I had when I was wheeled to the operation theatre. All that I wanted was if there was malignancy there then I wished that something goes wrong with the surgery and I die during the procedure. I was ok dying without notice instead of dying every single day fighting the big C. Coward I know! But I was really not prepared for it.

Biopsy went well and the sample was sent for further investigation. The report was due after a week. This was my first test. I started undergoing change. I slowly embraced acceptance. I decided to make the best use of whatever time was left. I started expressing love more to my family. I started praying harder. My prayers changed from being demanding to being humble. I thanked God for everything He has given me and I asked for the fortitude to help me get through this phase. God is kind indeed. He blessed me with tons of fortitude and I was able to resume my routine quite soon. Of course, there were breakdowns and the fear did manifest every now and then but somehow I managed to stay put. I used to tell myself every day that things are going to be fine. I was learning to focus on positivity.

The report came. “No malignancy detected. Culture recommended” Aaaah… What a relief! I felt like I had been gifted a new life. I hugged my husband and both of us cried. God is Great! It gave me a boost and more faith to take on life. A sample was further sent for culture. Culture reports come in three parts, each a month apart.

Those 3 months transformed me completely. I was more positive, enthusiastic and living every day of my life. I was more confident that probably the big C is not in the picture. I joined a new job which seemed impossible a few weeks ago. I was my normal self again sans the fear at the back of my mind. I got introduced to spirituality during this time and my relationship with God enhanced further. God has always been kind. Each time I broke down He lifted my spirit with more confidence and fortitude than before. It was impossible without Him to keep going.

All three reports came out clear. I was amazed by my tenacity and fortitude – both which were the gifts of Almighty. Some experiences are life-changing. They make us stronger and more courageous. Thank you God for being there for me ALWAYS. I truly believe that had it not been for God, malignancy was sure to be there because there was no other diagnosis to it.

Anyway, I am glad things turned out well. All is well that ends well, isn’t it? Today I am more matured in my thought process, value and emphasise my relationships more, take life easy. I have understood that life is not only about chasing dreams but living one!

HOPE – THE ANCHOR OF LIFE

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Plenty of emotions

flooding the thoughts

hard to let go the feelings

As I cannot see the weakness

the pain that is unexplainable

the suffering that is unavoidable.

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Pain is an integral part of any disease. Pain can be suffered but the pain given to the heart is always unbearable.

Nowadays there is a growing number of cases of cancer around the world. Yet people are strong enough to survive in some cases. Medicines are just a booster to your confidence, the main cure is only through love and care.

Nothing can beat the love and care given to the patient in curing an illness. The caregiver who is the closest to the patient must always ensure to give the best comfort they can at any point of time. Trusting and gaining confidence in life lets even the worst conditions become better.

I remember a boy from my school days, with whom I had not acquainted much. Years later even when I moved from one school to another, I had being in touch with many of my old friends. Unanticipated I remembered this kid in a conversation with my friend. She conveyed that he was suffering from cancer. It was a shock to me, as for me he was the brightest kid I had ever met. I was quite disturbed, yet a prayer evokes from my heart for him. Years passed, whenever I hear about someone suffering from cancer, this kid from my school comes into my mind. A very pale young kid who was very studious. Later I came to know he did not survive, but yes he did his exams excellently and passed with a good percentage. For a moment I felt so proud of him, as he did work hard even when he was in pain.

The struggles he had gone through, I could picture it, but never knew the pain. It was his mere confidence that took him ahead in life until is dreams were achieved.

One has to be hopeful in life to overcome all the obstacles in it. Hope is the only elixir of life. To bring in hope to a traumatized person is rather a difficult objective, yet not impossible.

“He is suffering because he did it”

“He is suffering because he is punished for his wrongdoing”

“Oh poor, she has cancer, she should have been careful”

All the illnesses are uninvited guests, we do not bring into us just because we enjoy suffering. It is something I wish to tell anyone who would love to quote the above sentences. Life is quite unpredictable. Hence who gets what is not in our hands. It is our duty as mere people to be with the patient, help them fight it.

The sufferer needs a healthy surrounding with healthy minds around. Only a healthy and sound mind can cure any worst illness. During the chemotherapy, they lose their confidence, their health, and their mental strengths too. Pain clouds their thought process, it is then we need to be around to hold them together. Let them not break down and show that life is not a cake walk.

Encourage them…

Show that there are many who need them…

Give them healthy food to eat…

Keep their mind busy…

Let them know that “Hope is the anchor of life”…

So never lose it…

CARING FOR A LOVED ONE WHO IS GOING TO LEAVE THIS WORLD

I was staying in hostel as part of my PUC( Pre-University Course). Once in two weeks, on Sunday we get a few hours outing time, where we can go out of campus at around 12 PM and report back in the campus by 8 PM the same day. Other weeks parents and family can come to meet the students for an hour. Every week my parents used to come to meet me at the hostel. It was the time where I could see happiness on their faces, this time the case was different.

“Swathi is diagnosed with blood cancer, doctors are saying that she is only left with few more months” said my dad. The news was not syncing in, she was my best friend. The thought of loosing her itself was so tough on me, I could hardly breathe, my energy drained to the smallest percentage, I was drowned in sweat in no time.

Next week was the week of outing, I requested my parents to take me home so that I can see her. One week felt so long, I was waiting so much to meet her. My heart was pounding so high as the time approached.

“It is so painful, I prefer dying than going through the therapies, not able to bear this anymore” – I can never forget these words uttered by my best friend. She was so lean, with no hair as her chemotherapy sessions have commenced, it was unbearable to see her and her parents going through that pain.

I’ve hold her hand in mine, and said “everything is going to be fine, don’t think about anything”. I was not fooling her, she is going through the stress of handling her own condition and it is very important to ease such person with comforting words. I tried to divert her attention by talking about our school, and some of our common friends.. “I don’t know where my bicycle is … “ said she, hearing to this I asked her dad where it was ? Because now she is staying at her aunt’s place close to the hospital and not at her own home.  I requested him to take me to their house so that I can bring her bicycle here. We washed the bicycle, decorated it a bit, we took it for her, she felt so happy seeing her bicycle.

“I want to eat Indian gooseberry. Can you get it next time you come to meet me ?” – for those of you who doesn’t know how it looks I am attaching a picture.

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It feels sour when we bite into it, turns slightly bitter later on and has various health benefits as well. I requested her that I would be back in half an hour, went home took some of those gooseberries for her. After seeing those her expression was priceless. I have also requested my sister to take few of those everyday for Swathi so that she can have as many as she wants. The next time I went to meet her, she was all in smiles for that small gesture of my sister.

Week after week, I kept visiting her though that meant spending only couple of hours with her due to travel constraints etc. There were many small things like these over a period of two months that made me feel how petty things can make the most important memories for us. She used to share a lot about her visits to hospital, doctors, her chemotherapy sessions, some times I wondered if she knew she was going to die, but I never dared to ask her.

At the time when she left this world, believe me she was holding a couple of gooseberries in her hand. After she passed away her parents needed me the most, whenever I met them, they were happy to see their daughter in me. I am so happy to serve that family, even today our relationship is very much similar.  I dream of her at times, and feel blessed to have a friend like her.

Caring for someone who is in the last days of their life is very challenging. It can be due to natural process of our body aging or an ailment, when the care has to be given at home it calls for different type of challenges. It is the last opportunity we have to serve someone who did so much for us, who mean a lot, whom we are definitely going to miss. We should keep in mind certain facts that can help us through.

  • Don’t see them as burden, in fact no one wants to be a burden on another. It is just that they are in need of help now, we may be in the same position tomorrow or little later.
  • Ask questions to engage them in conversations. Secret stories, mischievous instances , it can be anything, don’t ever make them feel lonely or as if they are not so important any more.
  • Crack jokes and laugh a lot. Laughter can make us forget a lot of pain.
  • Be kind, not only to the person who needs us, but ourselves too. It can become very frustrating at times, do not ever show the frustration before them. If you feel so, take a stroll down the road or relax yourself for sometime before resuming back to them.
  • When the time is tough, give the time a tough challenge. There is nothing called “dirty” task. It can be giving a bath, cleaning their bed, do it with love, because when there is love care-giving comes naturally.

All of us are part of this world for a very less time, today it may be someone else, our time may not be much farther. Always have patience and love, those are two things that would make us feel really good to have been caring for someone in need.