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Holding out in the face of that malady

Every day is now a bonus and a blessing. And when we take life’s days to be blessings, we tend to become more positive

A seemingly negative episode in life inspires a person more greatly than a legion of happy events can.

So said the boxer Muhammad Ali when he was sent to the slammer for refusing to go to Vietnam to fight in the U.S. Army. This happened in 1967. That episode transformed Ali’s life and paved the way for his future.

A seemingly negative situation occurred in my life, though I’m yet to become a legend! On December 31, 2010, I was found to have a very rare type of blood cancer. My leukaemia was diagnosed at one of the better-known cancer hospitals, the Marsden Cancer Hospital in London.

It was a bolt from the blue. The very word cancer shatters you under most circumstances, and here I was at the receiving end of it. Once the news sank in and I reconciled myself to my situation, I realised that I didn’t have much time at my disposal. Before the diagnosis, my life was a tad sluggish; the crisis galvanised my slumberous existence.

Not the end

I’m a man with a never-say-die attitude and approach to life. Once I overcame the trauma of getting afflicted with the ‘Big C’, I began a quest to educate people regarding cancer through writings in various publications and in several languages, and on the Internet. Cancer is not the end of life, neither is it insuperable. One can defeat it, provided one has the indomitable spirit to live life on one’s terms.

I believe in Albert Camus’s words: “There’s no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.” These words keep me on my toes and energise me.

I have noticed that many people have very negative and nebulous perceptions about cancer. They fallaciously think that if one is down with cancer, his or her days are numbered. I have been living with it for six years and aspire to live for many more years with the creative energy that I’m endowed with.

Life is a challenge. Accept it. We must look around and realise that there are people who have more insurmountable problems and incurable ailments than the difficulties we are burdened with. Remember, any life-threatening disease or situation gives you a set of new and fresh perspectives.

Somerset Maugham, who was a doctor but never practised medicine, said every disease was insightful. Your vision gets broadened. Your canvas gets richer, life becomes more meaningful. Cancer has mellowed me down in a constructive way.

To me, now every day is a bonus. It’s a blessing. And when we take life’s days to be blessings, we tend to become more positive, and mind you, positivism is contagious. You invariably spread it around. You inspire, encourage and enthuse people to come out of their state of torpidity and become a part of the great cosmos. Life is a boon. Enjoy it to the hilt, and in the words of Lord Tennyson in Ulysses: “Drink life to the lees.”

Faced with a smile

Before the final moment arrives, there should be a broad smile and a big grin on the face with an assurance and satisfaction that the life hasn’t gone in vain. Say with John Donne, “Death be not proud.”

Nothing can leave you perturbed if you are determined not to be fazed. To quote an Urdu poet, Zindagi jahad-e-musalsal hai tamasha tohnahin/Jeene waale hi rahte hain toofaan ke qareeb (Life is a constant strife, not a charade/Only those who live life, stay cheek-by-jowl with the tempests and turmoils).

sumitmaclean@hotmail.com

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 4:41:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/Holding-out-in-the-face-of-that-malady/article14583729.ece

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