Thursday, May 6, 2021

#25SilverLinings - The Knight In Shining Armour

I was waiting for the 25th of April 1996, when my husband would arrive from Abhu Dhabi. From the start of our relationships, we had our differences, issues and fights, but then we were also the closest two people can get. We shared sex, affection, love and care for each other. We shared the parenthood of two lovely children. He was the man who was responsible for me and my children, so the burden had to ease when he came, right? He was supposed to be the Knight in shining armour during my fight with a monster called cancer.

He first went to his home in Byndoor and paid a visit to his Mom’s grave before coming to Bangalore with his brother. When he came, Farheena was asleep and Rayyan greeted him happily. He was so proud to show off his beautiful sister to his dad. I was busy with the pending cancer treatment and did not pay much attention to get him ready for Farheena. I should admit that I never felt a need to get anyone ready to meet Farheena. I completely forgot what effect a daughter with special needs would have on her father seeing her for the first time when she was 11 months old. Unfortunately, he was not ready for all the challenges that he was facing, especially a special needs girl child, his mom's death and my cancer all rolled into one.
When I was looking forward to assurance, support and strength from him, the first thing he did was break down and cry. I felt sorrow surging in me as well and I was on the verge of tears. I consoled him and felt sorry, but the darling he is, he has this habit of changing my feelings quickly, especially when he opens his mouth to talk. He never allows me to feel bad for him for long.
“Why me?” he asked, “First Allah gives me a disabled daughter(that was not an acceptable term), after a few months my mom died and now my wife has cancer. I haven’t done anything wrong. Why is he punishing me?”
Good for me, because the tears I was about to shed along with him started to retrace their steps. Suddenly I had my sarcastic humour taking charge of the situation. I am not sure whether I was fair or not, but it happens to me very often.
“Darling, you must have done something bad and forgotten it. Maybe God knows why he is doing this. He is almighty and just and punishes only the wrong people, you yourself said so few days ago, right?”. Yeah, I was sarcastic, because sarcasm is my mother tongue. Whenever I am pissed off I talk in my mother tongue. I am who I am, fair or not. In our real lives, everyone is right in their own way. I don’t think he did not have the right to grieve, but I also had my right to find one shoulder to lean on. So, bad things happen between people, intentionally or unintentionally. This was the start of something which I never wanted in my life, but like cancer it happened. The cracks started to appear.
I was pissed off because he was not seeing that it was me who was supposed to fight for my life, who needed support and who was scared. It was all about him and how he was being punished or whatever that was. Now besides my family, I had one more person to console, convince and take care of. The word Mazoor (meaning disabled) was not something I expected to hear regarding Farheena. We avoided negative words, especially because Rayyan was a very sensitive child. I was hearing it for the first time and I was not happy about it either.
But I calmed myself down in a short span of time, because I had to go through my surgery, keep other chaotic people calm in our home, take care of my children for 10 days of hospitalization which the doctor said was required. I realized this was not the time to be pissed off but to be sensible in handling the Knight who was throwing tantrums about his fate. So, I again went back to consoling him, assuring him everything will be OK and not to worry. This again triggered a lot more complaints from him
“I bought this netted lingerie with so much love. Now you will never be able to wear it”. (yes darling, rub salt in my wound). I replied, “let us wait and see how life turns out. We don’t know. We did not expect bad things to happen but it did, in the same way something good can happen as well”. (Like all of a sudden you become a more sensible person to give me support with different vocabulary).
He came out with a lot of plans he had - the only time he had them was when it wouldn’t work out for us- and how disappointed he was. He was the saddest of all the people around me then. I was consoling him when Farheena woke up. Another torrent of questions started pouring out
“What is wrong with her?”
“Can she talk?”
“Can she walk?”
“What can we do to fix her?”
I invoked the mother of all patience I had in me, to answer him calmly. I think he was very nervous and I pitied him as well. I told him, “We can get back to Farheena and her treatment after tackling the issue on hand right now, that is my cancer and surgery scheduled in 2 days”.
He then came up with a shocking suggestion - “Can you postpone the surgery so that we can check out what alternative medicines we have. Someone mentioned that there is a guy in Kerala who heals cancer, let us try that out before removing the breast”.
I knew here I had to be very firm, much more firmer than the breasts are in our teen years. I told him sternly, “This is my choice of tackling cancer. I am not trying anything else. No use trying to change my mind now when the surgery is scheduled in 2 days”.
“How about a second opinion?” he asked pleading, “maybe this is not cancer. Maybe they made a mistake in diagnosis”. I agreed, though I was very sure that without the lump and only the biopsy report to go by, the doctor himself will not have any other choice but to say out loud what is written in the report. But at that stage, it was tough explaining things to him, so I agreed to visit a doctor the next day in another oncology hospital.
He continued with his droopy face, teary eyes and grief. I was now trying to feed Farheena with bottle milk and I looked at the person who was supposed to be my Knight in shining armour. All of sudden he reminded me of a knight -Don Quixote and I smiled. Farheena returned my smile very sweetly. At that moment I knew I had to smile and go through this for my little ones. I brought forth my own armour and decided to be my own Knight hereafter. That was another silver lining for me.
The smiles that made me a warrior. The little ones were the source of my strength

Promises that shook when cancer struck ..

Change is inevitable 

We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears. Francois de La Rochefoucauld

#25SilverLinings - Believing a Lie and Living It

The accusation had driven me angry. Time and tide wait for none… I had calmed myself  down. I am usually very good physically and emotionally when I am angry. It heals me. I know many will not agree with me, but when I am angry I do all the right things. 

Slowly I calmed down and settled to wait for the date of surgery. It was just 20 days, but the days were just crawling slowly at a sloth’s pace. Meanwhile, my sister was an emotional wreck and afraid of what would happen after my surgery. Even though her condition was more serious, she constantly worried about me. Hospice had stepped in and started Morphine for her. When breast cancer is left alone, it can really turn into a scary thing as it progresses. My sister had the courage to deal with it. She dressed the open wound everyday and it was much later that I convinced her to take something for her pain. Until then, she tolerated the pain with OTC painkillers. But as we all know, it is not the physical pain which can destroy you, but the emotional pain. Physical pain has its limit, beyond which you either faint or go numb, but the emotional pain will just destroy you because you are defenseless against it. This is what I saw in my sister who went on deteriorating faster after she got to know about my diagnosis. 

I was trying hard either to assure her that I will be OK or avoid her. We just couldn’t be together without the topic of my cancer cropping up its ugly head and making her emotional. Moreover she doubted my choices. 

The other cranky person I had to deal with was Farheena. I had suddenly weaned her off breast milk and she was not happy with it. Rayyan was playing, singing and trying to calm her down as I tried bottle feeding her. She would push the nipple out and demand for breast milk crying loudly at times. She was a peaceful baby who did not cry much, and seeing her like this was very frustrating. Those times I felt life/God or  something out there was very unfair. 

Due to milk collection, the tenderness in my breast became quite painful, especially on the side where the biopsy had been done. Pus had collected around the stitches and the doctor recommended I get the stitches removed. I was not eager. I felt that since the breast was going to be removed, what is the big deal with the stitches on it? The surgeon who did the biopsy did not want to hear those arguments. He was also a bit upset that I chose another doctor for surgery. He was a general surgeon, but I was damn sure that I wanted a onco surgeon only to operate on me. He said, “I did the biopsy and put those stitches in. I will remove it and finish what I started. You can do whatever you want after that”.  Six ouches later, the threads were out. The breast was looking very nasty and had developed different hues. 

There were times when I would feel a shiver running through my spine. I would feel scared as though I was facing a real monster. But I had to work hard to keep my fears locked within me since my family who were not expressive earlier, had started responding to the news now emotionally. All that I thought was bravery was nothing but numbness that hit them due to the shock of the news. The emotional condition of everyone around me was similar to the orchestra which was moving toward the crescendo. 

The biggest challenge here was to convince everyone around me that I had made the right decision to proceed with my surgery and removal of my breast which would be followed by chemotherapy and radiation.  There were a lot of issues they were worried about and the biggest one was me being OK and alive after the huge surgery. All my energy was being spent convincing my family that I was doing the right thing. They did everything because they loved me and more than me they loved my children. I had no heart to be rude to them or ignore them. I was myself worried and scared. I needed someone to pacify me and tell me everything's going to be alright, but here I was convincing others that I am going to be alright. 

Every negative thing has a positive side to it. Trying to defend my decision and convincing my sister and my family, I ended up convincing myself as well. I am not sure whether it can be called ‘believing your own lie’ because I was not exactly lying but I was not telling the truth either because I was not in control of the future. It is known that  a lie can embed itself in memory and come to feel as real as the truth and that is what happened to me when I was convincing everyone about the successful outcome of my treatment. I became more and more confident with each passing day. 

A week before my surgery I met my doctor to discuss and finalize a few things. He asked me to donate my blood so that it can be used during the surgery. I was a bit skeptical about this, but he explained how my own blood was the  safest blood to transfuse because it eliminated  disease transmission and allergic reactions which could be dangerous. He also explained that my body would start regenerating blood within 24 hours, so not to worry about it. I trusted him completely and went ahead with his suggestions. He asked me about my children, my family etc. He wanted to meet my husband and talk to him as well before going ahead with the surgery. At the end he said, “It felt as though we were talking about having dinner on a weekend rather than about the surgery on a Sunday morning. It is surprising how calm and collected you are”.  That was the result of convincing my family about my success story. I had come to believe it by repeating it day in and day out and now I think I can say I lived it out as well for 25 years.

My dad, myself, my sister and my mom- 4 of us had to fight cancer. 

Just few months before all the hell broke loose.. we were already stuggling during this time.

You can dress and pose whichever way you want, the pain cannot be hidden. I think I can see my own pain here where I am trying to look normal and act cool..

The guy always missing in group pics because he was clicking the pictures. 

Reflections - A-Z Challenge 2021

A to Z Challenge 2021

 I came across the A to Z April 2021 challenge link on 29th of March, so I was late for Theme Reveal, yet that did not deter me from jumping into it. 

My theme for the challenge was - Things that helped me surive cancer for 25 years. Since this April I enter into my 26th year of survival, it made a perfect match for the 26 alphabet. 

Since this was a spontaneous decision, I had to think of the blog everyday and create one because I had just time for a blog after regular working hours. Though at first I wanted to write about what helped me, later I decided to go ahead with something common for everyone. For example, when writing about Letter 'C' - I would say my children were a great motivation for my surival but then that is not the case with everyone. So, I went with being 'Calm' which is very much a part of fighting cancer. Plans kept changing, sometimes it was difficult to choose one topic when ideas were flowing for many of them and they all looked important. 

The stats did not change much for me, though I had comments coming in for the posts. Usually I have visitors without comment left on my blogs, but A-Z challenge visitors left behind comments. It also encouraged me to visit other blogs and leave behind comments. 

I found some amazing blogs to read. I also had great bloggers visiting my blog leaving behind encouraging comments. - Her pictures and posts were as beautiful as her. Arti's coomments were heartwarming always. - Very savvy posts. She  went out of her way to help me set up my profile right so that my blog would have easy access. Trudy had amazing list of movies. I looked forward to reading them everyday. - Her posts took me back to the days of school in St. Joseph's Convent. Found amazing art and another cancer warrior. Anne M Bray- you rock Thank you for your visit.

There were many more blogs I visited but I unable to add them to the list at present. 

I couldn't do the scavenger hunt due to lack of time after a full time job. 

I want to get back to the challenge once again whenever it is announced. 

Thank you everyone

My list of posts for A to Z Challenge 2021

A -  Awareness - Action - Attitude 

B - Bald yet Brave and Bold

C - Calm Despite Cancer 

D - Determination To Change Destiny 

E - Enthusiasm To Enjoy Life

F - Focused Yet Flexible

G- Feel Good With Gratitude

H - Humour Helps You Heal

I - Informative Intelligence

J - Joyful Journey Of Life

K - Kickstart Kindness Now

L - Learn to Listen toYour Body

M - Mind Full to Mindful - A Meaningful Journey

N - Nurture with Nature

O - Open Minded Optimism 

P - Persistant Patience Empowers Perseverance

Q - Quality or Quantity - Dilemma of Treatment

R - Recuperate - Respect Your Rebirth

S - Self Love - Smart Love

T - Thoughts - Tune Them To Triumph

U - Unlock Your Upgrade

V - Victim or Victor, The Choice Is Yours

W - The Watchful Will Win

X - Find Your X-Factor, Be Xtraordinary 

Y - Yes, 'YOU' Matter

Z - Add Zest & Zeal To Your Life

Friday, April 30, 2021

Z - Add Zest & Zeal To Your Life


Ah, there we have A Z A Z in Add Zest And Zeal. What a perfect way to end a challenge A to Z!

Once we have fought and won over cancer, let us not end up being alive, but rather live our life fully with high doses of Zest and Zeal. We have already been near death once, so let us now get back to life with a zeal never seen before. 

As children we remember very vividly what we did in the summer vacation with more love than the regular school days, unless you had a terrible home environment and school was your refuge. Add to it all those family picnics, vacations, honeymoon or any other events that gave you the freedom to live your life without a care. It is easy to see the difference between being alive, existing and actually living our life to the fullest. 

You don’t have to be on a vacation, holidays or any fancy place to fill your life with happiness, but you can make small changes in your workplace, home, life-style and thoughts to make it come alive. 

Zest is that part of us that we either hide or forget as we grow up abiding to the rules of what is the right thing for us to do. A simple definition of the word says, it is about living life with a sense of excitement, anticipation and energy, that is essential to nurture our soul,  and gives us a spirit that makes us stand out as a human. Those who have imbibed zest in their lifestyle, will make even ordinary tasks look something important and interesting. Remember the guy who went out with a broom to sweep in footloose? If you don’t, check out his video below. 

After long struggle with diagnosis, opinions, second opinion, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and recovery, it is easy to lose our zeal for life and even the zest if we had it in the first place. It is easy to feel grateful to push through each day without an incident or manage just what we have to do to survive. This attitude will steal our life from us, even though we have won over cancer. 

It is important for us to get back that zeal and zest in our life so that we make it worth the second chance we get. 

Always be around people who make you feel like a warrior, rather than push you to worry with their cancer related sob tales.If the need arises, it is OK to stop them firmly (or rudely) if you feel what they say is going to put you down. 

Set goals which have nothing to do with your fight with cancer. Even if you are very happy with your life, find something new and exciting to do. Strike out the word boredom from your life. Fill the spaces of boredom with something exciting to do

Laugh and let others laugh with you. Reach out with your helping hand to those who really need your help. There is a great deal of happiness, contentment and peace when you know you were able to make a difference to someone. It is good to smile and laugh out loud, but believe me, it feels much better when you wipe tears and make a sad person smile. 

Let us make our life meaningful and live it to the fullest by adding zest and zeal to everything we do. Good luck!

Some of my friends have been a great inspiration to me. Duffy Mathias is one of them. Fighting lot of health issues besides cancer, she never stopped living. Her jump says it all..

We had a great Sari party in Florida with my sisters in survival of breast cancer. Not just new, may be one of a kind. 

I fulfilled my dream of visting Disney World with my children 

There were this special moments in our life, and then there were everyday events which we the made the best of. That was something which made our lives special and filled it with zeal and zest.... 

And not to forget the video from footloose

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Y- Yes,’YOU’ Matter


We grow up listening to all those things matter, which includes our good behavior, following our religion, abiding to social norms, scoring good marks in academics, finding a good job, being on time, hard work etc etc etc. The list is unending with few additions in it only for women, but unfortunately ‘YOU’ are never there on the list, right? Slowly we start to care about everyone and everything other than us. 
That happened to me as well until cancer knocked my door. It left me wondering when undergoing treatment, what is the use of everything I did, achieved or have if ‘I’ myself am not there. They all turn to dust with me. If I die, I cannot be a mom, a daughter, a sister or a wife, so I have to take care of my needs, my health and my happiness if I want to be there for others. Not only that, I had to learn to value myself without attaching value only to what I accomplish or what I can do for others. I wanted to just be there and feel important, like a cat.

Life is going to have the good days and the bad ones, you will be lazy or busy, things will look up and then they will slide down, but you are always there in your life. You can escape from everyone, but you have to be with you always. Once you start to realize ‘YOU’ matter, you will make time for yourself to do things which do bring a sense of accomplishment but sheer happiness. It can be listening to music, watching a movie, going for a walk, going out with friends or reading a book without a purpose… just for the sheer joy of it. Many people end up with guilt, or feel they are wasting precious time when they indulge in their own happiness. As a counselor I hear this so often, even from people as young as 13 or less. 
The word selfish is very scary. We are made to believe at times, that being happy is being selfish, but we have to learn the difference to be happy yet not selfish. In fact, selfishness chases away happiness. If you observe, you will see that selfish people are never happy people. 
After the cancer treatment, there are times when you feel you are not complete. You have to unlearn all that you were taught earlier, and learn to love and accept yourself for who you are and what you have become after cancer. This is the time you need this self-love more than ever. You have to learn to accept the fact that ‘You’ matters the most in your life. You have to learn to enjoy your life and be happy without going through the guilt. 

Sometimes the journey itself is more beautiful than the destination. We get lost by focusing on the time, what we should do when we reach our destination, what if we don’t get there on time and many other worries that we forget to notice or enjoy of the journey itself. We may never reach our destination in some cases. Let this not be the story of the journey of our life. Let us not focus so much on destination, that we forget to enjoy the journey. Let us live this moment and feel it. Let us learn to accept the fact that ‘We’ matter so that we don’t get so busy making a living that we forget to live our life.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Find Your X-Factor, Be Xtraordinary


Not many can understand something as complicated as the X-factor because it cannot be graded or measured in numbers. Like many other good things, it is felt by you. On the other hand, it is easy to know who the x.y.z people are. XYZ is also a code for zipper down, but we are not dealing with pant zips today. 

When we talk about Monalisa painting, we say Leonardo Da Vinci painted it. If we see some art which is not attractive with an unknown author, we call it a painting by some xyz artist. So, how do we become someone special and not just any xyz? The key is to find our X-factor like so many ordinary people did to play  a role, write a book, create a masterpiece, find their talent in a game or a talent for doing something they were passionate about. 

What do you cherish the most in your life besides the people and relationships? It is something rare, unique and has some special thing about it, right?  It can be a book, a jewelry, a cutlery or anything, but if you cherish it, then it is something extraordinary. Finding your X-factor will make you that treasure which you value. Though we all talk about the X-factor not many find it, because we are not looking for it. 

It is believed that every person is born with a X-factor but they live their life without finding it. 

On the stage of the reality shows, we have seen ordinary people perform extraordinary feats. It is those who found their X-factor and a platform to show it off. For every person receiving a standing ovation there, there are millions who haven't found that X-factor, or just ignored it after finding it.

Stand our with your X-factor
If you ever had a brush with your passionate abilities, but you pushed it aside because you had a more important task on hand, think back on it once again. Catch hold of your X-factor that brings out that unique talent in you which gives you a sense of effortless joy, which makes you feel like a Xtraordinary person. It is not always important for others to acknowledge that you are Xtraordinary, you have to feel it and experience it.

Not everybody who finds their X-factor has to make it big, though it always helps to have a bonus. Many may enjoy helping poor and needy, but they may not make it as big as what Mother Theresa did. Every person who found their writing talent may not become as famous as J.K Rowling. But, every person can be special in their own life and make a difference in any small way they can. We lost touch with our X-factor when we were told A- is for apple when our mind was thinking about a lot of things that connected to A.

For me A looked like a swing from sideways but our imagination is shut off when we are forced to learn like everyone else. That was the past. Now we have got another shot at life, and let us live that by being someone special in our own small unique way. 

An ambition, a purpose and a goal to pursue will always give you extra strength to fight for your life. So it is time now to find your X-factor, or if you had already found it, focus more on it to make it big. Let the treasure hunt begin for our X-factor. Good luck!

Below I am sharing few art creations by my special needs daughter which will prove that even simple things can be Xtraordinary.

Farheena and her friends posing for group photo

She called it 'Tree of Life'

Mommy and Baby flowers

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

W - The Watchful Will Win


When it comes to cancer, timely and early treatment makes a world of difference to the final outcome. Also, my doctor says, right treatment the first time is the best treatment. So, what can help us get the right timely treatment or keep a check on recurrence? It is being watchful. Be confident, be positive, but also be wary and watchful. 

Cancer like many killer diseases creeps in silently until it becomes a bit late for us to notice something is off. Screening and regular health checkups will help in early detection of any disease. Many people have lost their battle to immediate recurrence, a period when they thought the battle is over and are relaxing. My mom was one of them. Sigh!

Some of us love to think of selves as those favored people with whom nothing can go wrong. The bad things always happen to others. Then there are the opposites who usually feel everything bad is happening only to them. Both of those mindsets can be dangerous to our health. Thinking nothing will go wrong and ignoring what has to be done, can allow certain illnesses to progress to dangerous levels to show symptoms. Also, constantly worrying about illnesses and diseases that do not exist but we think exists, can be dangerous in itself. “Killed by worry” is a possibility.

For those with family history of cancer, or at higher risk, a regular screening plan should be formulated after consulting healthcare workers. Also watch your healthcare plans and insurance policies. Believe me, I have been in a very bad financial crunch after my cancer experience and I know how tough it is to fight for paying the regular bills along with cancer.  

After my cancer experience, I overdid the watching part. After my third chemo, I saw another lump on my non-operated breast which scared the &^%& out of me, but later it turned out to be a clot which went away with a few massages. Later there was scar tissue left on the operated spot which looked like a lump which again was scary. It took me sometime to realize the difference between being watchful and having an irrational fear of cancer coming back. I found the balance between the two to be on watch but not fearful. 

Apart from physical illness, some more dangerous emotional challenges like fear of recurrence, anger, guilt, depression or chronic anxiety may silently make entry into our life without us being aware of them. It is very difficult to deal with them when they settle down comfortably. Nipping them in the bud is easier. 

In the past 25 years, I have realized that there are many screenings which are very important at regular intervals, and some are recommended though they are not required. Not being an oncologist, I have no right to name them, but I would suggest everyone to evaluate, get different opinions and finally settle down with a follow up plan after cancer treatment. I have realized that some of the scans I went through were not necessary much later. 

Besides cancer, it is important to watch your emotional/mental health as well. Chemotherapy can wreak havoc on both your body and mind. Chemobrain is not a myth. Side-effects like hair loss, fluctuating blood count, nausea etc happen immediately after treatment, but there are other side effects called late effects that may develop months or even years after cancer treatment ends. Long-term and late effects can include physical and emotional changes which need your attention more than the immediate side-effects because they are here to stay. You need a plan to deal with them. 

It pays to be watchful of your treatment plan, side-effects, follow-up reports and general health as well. When it comes to cancer, the watchful are the winners.

Monday, April 26, 2021

V - Victim or Victor, The Choice Is Yours!


Five years after my fight with cancer, I was asked, “I hear you are also a victim of cancer” by an educated person. I answered, “I went through cancer and here I am, alive. You don’t see cancer here, right? So, to put it out precisely, we both had a fight and cancer was the victim and I am the victor”.
We use the word victim freely, without understanding how damaging it can be someone, especially those who are alive.
I choose victor over victim, anyday. If I lose, I am a fighter, because I would never go down wihtout a fight to anything or anyone.

Fighting cancer and treatment will last for a short period of our lives. When we get back on track of our new normal lives, we have a choice of either being a victim or a victor. I have come across very strong, independent and self-respecting people losing the positive part of themselves during the prolonged treatment procedure. I have also seen crumble after hearing about the diagnosis, even before stepping into the treatment. 

The prolonged treatment makes people feel like a patient. I walk into the hospital, and then I am asked to sit on a wheelchair for my check-ups. Of course I refuse. But, this extra caring can make you feel like a patient. Having surrendered to healthcare workers or loved ones during their treatment which left them weak, some people refer to themselves at patients even after years. 

When going through research here, which was conducted on 168 young to middle-aged adults who had previously experienced cancer.The result showed that - At least somewhat, 83% endorsed survivor identity, 81% identity of "person who has had cancer", 58% "patient", and 18% "victim".’

It was concluded that even though the ‘Survivor identity appears most common and most associated with active involvement and better psychological well-being, other identities also exist or coexist and those identities affect their behavior.  

Cancer leaves the survivors with the trauma of going through surgery and prolonged treatment, which is not easy to deal with. There are a lot of changes in the body. As a breast cancer survivor, initially I struggled to feel normal among women with two breasts, after my mastectomy. Then adding salt to the wound, I had to lose my hair as well. All of sudden I looked different, and felt different. It was easy for me to feel like a victim, because what I was going suited the dictionary - a person who has come to feel helpless and passive in the face of misfortune or ill-treatment. 

It took sometime, but then I started feeling like a victor over cancer. Wars leave scars, so I had them, but then wasn’t I here alive kicking the cancer butt out of my life? I had made right choices and stomped over that crab.

When I started thinking differently, the world started changing for me. Our mentality of being a victim or victor can make a huge difference to our life after cancer. If we think we are not worthy of love it will spoil our relationship with our partner, same will happen if our partner will think so. If we feel we aren’t capable of great performance after cancer, we will jeopardize our professional life. Nothing good can come out of the feeling of victim for anyone, anywhere, anytime. Reminds you of the words, victim of poverty, victim of circumstances, victim of domestic violence? Once you stick that label  on your chest, you are doomed. Let us not allow that to happen. 

Choose to be Victor… we are!

People start to identify us differently when we stop being thinking like victims

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Unlock Your Upgrade

Just as iron rusts from disuse, and stagnant water putrefies, or when cold turns to ice, so our intellect wastes unless it is kept in use.

Leonardo da Vinci

How often we become stagnant without even realising it. Commitments, jobs, family and many other things make us work like a clock. Every new day is a chance for us to be a better person than we were the day before, but do we choose to be better or settle for what we are? We at times disguise this stagnancy with a beautiful word ‘Acceptance’.

We should never stop from adding a few upgrades to ourselves, no matter at what age we are. Learn something new, set goals to achieve something you have never done before, so that you will always have something to forward to. Unlock your hidden talents, skills which you have ignored.
Cancer, like many other misfortunes, drains away the energy. It is easy to fall into the trap of reasons - that because of cancer I cannot do this. Other than a few things like blood donation, cancer cannot stop you from doing things you want to do, unless YOU want to make it a reason for not doing things.


When things were not running smoothly for me, what kept me going and fighting during chemotherapy was the thought that I had messed up with lifeand given a chance, I wanted to correct the mistake. For 7 years, before cancer happened, my life was spent in making adjustments, giving up things I loved doing, managing relationships which were on a terrible roller-coaster ride. These were the years when I had my first child which again needed few more changes made to already changed life. I had no time for books now, and I wasn’t reading much which was my favorite hobby. My second child was with special needs, so more duties added to life. I don’t regret bringing up my children with love, in fact those memories are best in my life. I value the time I spent with them. But, unfortunately, in all the life drama I was lost for 7 years without improving anything about myself. I didn't even recognise me anymore.

Since very early childhood, I had been interested in learning things from just anywhere or anyone. Every summer vacation, I added new skills to an already existing list. I would come up with projects that at times paid me quite well. But then marriage happened and my husband was hell bent on stopping me from pursuing my studies or career. Falling under pressure, I became stagnant. I loved my children and I convinced myself that I was being a good mom by giving up everything I love for them. It was the cancer which worked as a wake up call for me.

At one point when chemotherapy created havoc on my body by bringing my WBC count very low and I was feeling very weird and shivering badly; I felt I may die any moment. It was then that I realized I had wasted my life and regretted it strongly.. At that moment I felt a lot of regrets for things I wanted to do, but did not for one reason or another. I promised that if I come out of this alive, I will never repeat that mistake ever again. Quick blood transfusion and I was saved. I kept my promise I made to myself.

I never compromised on the care of my children or family, but that did not mean I had to sacrifice myself for them. It was not even required because there was time for everyone and for ME. I started my journey with very tiny steps, sometimes sliding back from where I reached but I did not give up. Projects were back in my life once again and I was happy, no matter what the struggles were. I was not stagnant.

In the past 25 years, I have released a new upgraded version of myself every year without fail. I got back to my studies and finally got my Masters in ‘Counseling and Psychotherapy as well, which was very satisfying. Being on the move, unlocking my skills and upgrading myself has kept me happy, secure and safe. Even during the pandemic when my most loved project of running my preschool -My Giggle Garden- closed down, I could immediately find a job which I enjoy and I work from home now. Happy, secure and safe. I upgrade myself so often now that at times I feel like I am an iPhone. 

After the 7 year self imposed imprisonment, once I started living again rather than being alive, I regained my self-love, self-respect and started looking at myself with pride. I am grateful to cancer for giving me the much required push. The changed lifestyle gave me enhanced strength to fight for my life, because my life was worth fighting for.

I don’t think everyone has to wait for something like cancer to upgrade themselves. We should identify our strengths and enhance them, while identifying our weaknesses to overcome them. It is important to break the taboos and indoctrination that is holding us back at times. Step out of the comfort zone which will slowly become your prison if you allow it to take control. Risk is fun sometimes.

Think of one thing you always wanted to do but had to give up due to pressure from life. Promise yourself that you will give that as a gift to yourself, no matter what obstacles you face. There are things you do for success and there are things you do for the sheer joy of it. Find the balance for both. Unlock that skill/talent you always had in yourself. You deserve an upgrade, no matter when.

Don't downgrade your dream just to fit your reality. Upgrade your conviction to match your destiny.” Stuart Scott. 

Friday, April 23, 2021

Thoughts - Tune Them To Triumph


Positive thoughts may not cure cancer, but it will definitely help you triumph over it. 

We are regular people who admire superheroes. How we wish to have some superpower! What we forget is that we all have our superpowers, only we don’t know about it. One such superpower we humans possess is of our thought. Every progress, invention, achievement or development we know today, was once perceived just as a thought. Don’t you think that is a superpower?

We constantly think but never pay much attention to the flow of our thoughts. Our thoughts create a mindset which has a power to either create success or failure, happiness or distress, opportunities or misfortunes and in some extreme cases, life and death as well. If you add the spice of negative imagination to the negative mindset, it becomes a deadly combination with power of destruction.

Many studies conducted over decades have proven that our thoughts are powerful enough to affect our reality. Now there is also a field of scientific study, called psychoneuroimmunology which focuses on the effect that mental and emotional activity have on the physical well-being of the patient.

Most of our thoughts are randomly triggered by trivial things happening immediately around us, which do not stay with us for long. They are like our co-passengers during travel. Some of them are more constant, like our colleagues/relatives. Then we have those thoughts that are constantly with us, which is like our immediate family. We know any negative/positive co-passenger, colleague, relative or a loved one can have a great impact on us, so is the impact of those thought processes on us. Finally, there comes the thoughts which are strong enough to define us. These are our predominant innate thoughts which we repeat often and we may strongly believe them. They have the power to influence our behavior, attitude, actions and can shape our reality. It is the thoughts that affect us the most that we should try to tune to positivity.

Israel conducted a study, titled Modulation of anti-tumour immunity by the brain’s reward system. It was published in the science journal Nature. It claims that there is a deep connection between the patient’s mental state and cancer survival. Some other studies claim that negative thoughts promote growth of cancerous tumours. There is enough evidence to show the effect of thoughts on events.

Since thoughts are abstract, we can never be sure of the tests, studies or researches, yet we ourselves have experienced the power of thoughts in our lives. It is not only when we fight adversities, but even when going about the simple tasks of writing an exam, making friends, building relationships, attending a job interview, and many others mundane tasks, we see the influence of our thoughts on the outcome.

As for me, I had a tough time convincing my family about my choices of total radical mastectomy and chemotherapy. My parents were already reeling under the grief of seeing my sister in the last stages of cancer. I had to talk to them very often and convince them that I was going to be alright, and that I had made the right choice. This tuned my thoughts into strongly believing what I was telling them and my thoughts got permanently tuned to triumphing over cancer with my treatment. I think believing my own lie ( I call it so because back then I did know for sure that I was going to survive) and transforming my thoughts to positive outcomes in effort to convince my family, has played a big role in my survival of 25 years.

This forward message which I have no verification about, makes a lot of sense about how thoughts affects our reality -

A man finds himself locked in a walk in freezer. He is convinced he will die and begins writing letters. His letters end with a final passage where he is saying he can not write anymore because his fingers are beginning to freeze. When they find him dead, not only do they find the letters but they discover that the freezer’s temperature never dropped below 50 degrees because it was not plugged in. Thus, the man pretty much psyched himself to freeze to death.

We often say lightly without meaning it, “I am worried to death about ______”. That expression may carry more truth in it than we actually realize. If I have to die of cancer, I would like to die of the illness itself, rather than worrying about cancer.

There will always be events and circumstances in our life that we cannot control, what we can control is our thoughts, which will help us indirectly to control our lives. Let us take up the challenge today to tune our thoughts to triumph over any adversities we are facing. Good Luck!


Rayyan Lost in Laptop

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