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Smiles and tears... and salute

AN EX-model, aged 40 and a mother of two children, was crying bitterly. She was diagnosed as having breast cancer. She was to undergo chemotherapy the next day. She was sitting before Anup Kumar, the 50-year-old author of bestseller "The Joy of Cancer" by Rupa and Company published last year. The lady was scared of chemotherapy and what would happen to her after that.

The next day, the lady's doctor was asking Anup, "What have you done to her? She was all smiles, unlike always."

Anup's answer lies in his second book by the same publisher, "Smiles and Tears: A Salute to Cancer" releasing this coming Tuesday at Intercontinental The Grand, New Delhi.

This time there are 21 real stories spread across 280 pages. These 21 people are those who are either suffering from cancer, or spouses of the people who succumb to it and how they have learnt to combat cancer with smiles. Most cases are picked up from different parts of India, two from UK and the US. For instance, there is spine-chilling story of a young patient from Siliguri who was recommended bone marrow transplant, but his bone marrow did not match his parents'. So the parents decided to go for another child so that the child's bone marrow matches his. By the time the child was born the patient was on his last legs. When the child grew capable of lending bone marrow the boy went for the transplant. And now the family is living happily. A girl in London was diagnosed cancer when she wanted to do skydiving. Instead of moaning, she went for skydiving before going for prolong treatment that could confine her to bed.

"I never thought the book will be so difficult to write," says the author. "Out of 70 people I spoke to, only 21 agreed to speak on the subject." The reasons were many; superstitions surrounding the disease, some thought it to be too private to share, some for fear of societal opprobrium, some never wanted to recall the pain.

While Indian Cancer Society celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Anup is surprised that the country does not have cancer hospitals in smaller towns and up to 80 per cent patients go for a diagnosis only in the third stage of the disease. There are no NGOs working for its cause and there is very little information, awareness and sharing of knowledge in this field. Yet he is geared up to spread the message of endurance.

"There are chances of survival if your will power is strong. But even if you have to die, die happily."

The book is priced at Rs.292.


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