Wellness Metroplus

In true spirit

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On the occasion of World Cancer Day, it is time to acknowledge those who have defied all odds by standing up against the trauma of cancer. Their grit to take on life threatening disease remains matchless. On this day, let’s spare a thought for the survivors who inspire us to not give up.

Last year in July, RGCIRC had organised a ‘Survivors Meet’ for breast cancer patients and for head and neck cancer patients as well. My interaction with them has revealed that they are the real fighters and are successful in their careers as well. They continue to work and remain employed during illness and return to work soon. They are receptive and creative but sometimes hostile, having strong egos and sense of their adequacy. They have high degree of self-esteem and self-love, but they are generally not docile. They are intelligent with a strong sense of reality. They value interactions with others.

Although concerned with their own welfare, each one seemed to have a sort of personal radar. They are also tolerant and concerned about others. A cancer survivor replied, “Diamond cannot be polished without friction. Gold cannot be purified without fire. Good people go through trials and may suffer but with experience their life becomes better and not bitter.” I said, “You mean to say such experience is useful.” The cancer survivor replied, “Yes, certainly yes. Experience is a hard teacher. Life gives the test first and the lessons afterwards.” The survivors admit that they had a change in their approach, attitude and character after this disease.

They can be both serious and playful, shy and aggressive, logical and intuitive so on and so forth. They become paradoxical and more flexible than other people. They clean up the mess and make things safer and more efficient. In short they give something of themselves, leaving the world better than they found it.

After the completion of treatment, a survivor reaches a harmonious stage of of functioning and maturity. She develops empathy for other people and maintains a positive outlook and confidence in adversity. Such people have a feeling of getting smarter and enjoying life more as they get older. They like to take risks and experiment with their own lives. I asked one of the survivors, “How do you stay motivated in tough times?” He responded, “Always look at how far you have come rather than how far you have to go. Always count your blessings, not what you are missing.”

One gender difference I found in these survivors is that women tend to understand realities better than men. Women are more used to accepting and working with their emotions, whilst men’s lives tend to resolve around their work. One of the patients questioned in ‘Open Forum Session’ that how can he get the best out of life? The survivor sitting on the dais replied: “Face your past without regret? Handle your present with confidence. Prepare for the future without fear. Life is wonderful if you know how to live.”

No doubt, cancer has profound social and economic consequences for the people facing this dreaded disease. It leads to family impoverishment and societal inequity. An estimate says that over 10 lakh new cases of cancer are diagnosed every year in India with a population of over 1.2 billion. Deaths are also on higher side. A major chunk of cancer cases in India are associated with tobacco use and other avoidable causes. Expanding health facilities and increasing awareness will play a key role in dealing with the menace of cancer in India.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 3:57:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/in-true-spirit/article8188755.ece

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