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Life after cancer

It has been two years since I was diagnosed with cancer. More than a year ago, I finished my treatment and was declared a cancer survivor. Many things seem surreal to me these days. The very fact that I am still alive and kicking makes me shake my head in disbelief.

I try to understand what exactly a cancer survivor’s life is all about. I think it is something like this — you have an enemy right by your side day in and day out. He is always striving to do away with you. You just have no way of learning his characteristics to make your plans to face him, but you have to befriend him in such a way that he forgets his purpose, well at least for some time!

Life becomes demarcated as BC and AC (before cancer and after cancer). You learn very soon that life can never be the same again, neither for you nor for your family. Pushed to your limits, you always become smart and efficient. Same thing happens for a cancer survivor also. Faced with the reality of death, you start cherishing life, every facet of it. You equip yourself to face eventualities, making you stronger and stronger that you are surprised at your own strength.

Like all things in life, I believe that this phase of my life also has a bright side to it. I have become brutally aware of the mechanical life I had been leading, totally neglecting my health. I prefer to call myself a catcher of sunshine these days. I am aware or conscious of every single moment of my life. My surgery table has become a bodhi tree for me. Now I can easily strike a rapport with all the elements of this life and the earth around me. Living life one day at a time liberates me no end. Sparrows, butterflies, foggy mountains, morning green tea, circumlocutory kolams that I draw in the mornings, unending music that I listen to and the meals that I prepare with no hurry all bring joy to me.

Many changes have crept into my life. A few books did teach me certain good things — one of them is Anticancer: A new way of life by David Servan-Schreiber. He strongly advocates every cancer survivor to create a relationship with our bodies that stimulates the immune system. Understanding and healing the psychological wounds that feed cancer is very important. Lifestyle changes, especially eating organic food that prevent and actively fight tumours and cutting back on cancer promoters, are very important.

Our mental health is as important as our physical health. A holistic approach helps me a lot. It is very important to discard negative thoughts. You can include negative

people also in this list. I have stopped reacting to things these days. Having said all these, don’t thing I am romanticising cancer in any way. Every time I have to visit my oncologist, the fear creeps in. Every time I need to take a scan, anxiety afflicts me no end. This fear demon can be warded off to some extent with a good sense of humour. Imagine yourself in all funny situations or watch a funny movie before your appointment!

A supportive family is a great blessing, but having said that I need to acknowledge that this is a lonely journey, for you are a lone traveller who has embarked on a wild, fearsome journey with never even a chance of knowing the outcome. Like all things in this world, this journey also is more tough on a woman. We as a society have always taken women for granted and have never taught our girls to care for their health properly. Hope world becomes more inclusive and people become more conscious; meanwhile, let me go feed my little sparrows for the day!

vijinarayan57@gmail.com

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 1:36:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/life-after-cancer/article33768758.ece

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