Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Let Life be Your Focus. Not Survival.

Farida Rizwan:

This message has been doing rounds on facebook for some time now.
"Stupid cancer... we all wish to have a new lose weight...a person who has cancer only wants one fight their cancer...I know that 97% of you guys won't put this on your wall...but 3% of my friends will....Put it on your wall in honor of someone who died from cancer or who's fighting against it now".
“What a lie?” I exclaimed but let it be. It came back to me, twice in the morning, once in the afternoon and again twice in evening. Then it got on my nerves. I had to shout ‘STOP’.
Like every other thing happening on facebook, once something picks up fancy of facebookers’, it keeps coming back to you. We earlier had women posting about their bra colors without telling the men about it; it was meant to support cancer. Yeah! I know that. Making men wonder what is about the color women are talking about is really going to save women from having breast cancer and dying of it. Then another wave hit, which was about the purse. ‘Where do you usually like keeping your purse?’ or something like that, again with men being kept in secret. Women posted messages like, “I like it on bed”, “I like it on table” etc. It was fun, with men wondering what the women liked on bed, sofa, table and many such places. Naturally it helped many women from getting cancer and dying of it. These services are what we need to help those going through cancer! (Don’t take it seriously people; it is filled to the brim with sarcasm)
Not only having to fight cancer, but watch helplessly as loved ones lost their lives to it, I have been feeling very strongly about this issue. Cancer is no fun. It takes away so much from a person. If you really want to do something, go out there and really do some service to people who are going through cancer. Clean up their homes, cook for their kids or do a bit of shopping for them.
Playing secret games are not going to help those going through cancer in any way. It has not helped me in any way.
Where the message tells us that cancer survivor does not want to have car, new phone or something like that , I laughed out loud. Honestly, being a cancer survivor and being constantly in touch with many more survivors, I know this is not true. I don't want to surrender my life to cancer and live with the sole purpose of fighting and surviving it. I know that I want to study, work, be myself, enjoy my life, and, I would be more than glad to own a car, buy a smartphone or lose some weight. I love my kids and want to be there for them. I had to give up on my standard quality of life to survive cancer but I did it grudgingly as my children were my priority. But, just because I have been through cancer doesn't make me any different from rest of the people out there, other than the natural differences we possess. I have all those wants like any of you according to my individuality. I don't mean to hurt anyone's feeling by saying this, as I know you meant support for us ... Just want to let you know the message is misleading. Cancer is a serious condition to deal with. Until one has been there, there is no way to understand how a survivor feels.
Judy Friedkin:
• I guess that the people who put it on their wall are well -intentioned. I remember feeling that way once. I was in the swimming pool and a very superficial woman who has never worked in her life and only talks about what new material thing she has gotten, was talking about whether she should get the necklace with this size diamond or that. She was fretting over it, while telling me about it. I felt like saying ,"Gee, I am trying to decide between a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. I think that might be the intention of the status update. But I get where you are coming from.
Duffy Mathias:
• I think there should also be something in there about.... Although we know that a positive attitude is always a good thing for every human being to have - not just cancer patients and survivors - we do NOT like being told by people who've never had cancer that we need to have a positive attitude.
If you haven't walked in our particular shoes, please don't assume you know what we should think or feel. And please, for God's sake, don't tell us horror stories about what other people have gone through with cancer and how horrible their deaths were. That. Is. NOT. Helpful. Not to our mental and emotional state. What in God's name are those people thinking when they do that?!?
(My Mom told me just this morning that she admires my positive attitude because she knows how important that is in order to stay healthy. I told her I absolutely agree - to an extent. I try hard to not let cancer be my focus in life.... I try hard to make LIVING be my focus in life.... But no-one should tell me it's necessary for me to always be happy and/or positive, because sometimes I'm not and I cannot be. When I'm depressed, leave me be, because I'll come out of it eventually. And in the meantime, don't even think about lecturing me on the importance of staying positive unless you, too, have been told you have 3 to 5 years before they expect it to show up on your organs. Which I was told two years ago. So please don't presume to know how I should feel, and please don't preach to me in any way.)
Those who have real experience with cancer are welcome to share your thoughts on this topic.


  1. Hmm....I'm actually am trying to orientate my thoughts just so I don't send the wrong message across. :)

    I am one of those who actually puts up messages in honor of cancer survivors. (not aware of the bra color and its associated ambiguous texts though.)

    My family has people who never won the cancer battle, a nephew who is still battling it and friends who have been recently diagnosed.

    And it just felt right posting the message up. I will gladly participate in campaigns that will run for the awareness and what not. And I also know that doing these things are not exactly gonna change how the victim feels.

    I guess I do it for myself. A selfish action on my part to feel good even if its in its most superficial form.

    Great post. :)

  2. Ah, big big big hug!!!! I love you "mama"!

    I don`t have cancer, but I have some other things, so when I tell some people about it they respond like:

    Oh, my, go....d! How can you live, how do you deal with the pain.. All they can think of, everytime I see them..

    So one day I said:
    I know my issues, but I dont focus on them. I have a life to live. I have other things I like to do. Can you please talk about my favourites, and not only my issues?

    They didn`t know what to talk to me about. Their mind was: she is ill, she is ill, I must be careful what I do or say...

    So, I love what you wrote Farila :)

    And Facebook? I dont have it. I just simply cant see what`s so special about Facebook. For me, I do well without. And when it comes to the things people are "fan" of.. Earlier here in Norway, there was a lot of sms`s like: pass this message on, then your health will improve etc etc, if not somthing bad will happend... ARGH... What people can make themselves believe in......

    Again: Thank you for beeing YOU :)

  3. @ Usha -My Mom and sister have succumbed to breast cancer and my dad has been through Hodgkin's too, though the cause of his death was different. I recently lost my dearest friend Paula to BC again.. so we can say cancer is an uneven battle of sorts. Putting up messages is fine as long as they are relevant .. the message I mentioned conveys total negative aspect of survival. It makes the survivors feel like beggars of life. I feel sorry for your loss and appreciate your efforts to be supportive.

    @Ege Denne - Hope in future people will be sensible to spare you the torture....

  4. This is so sad, I had a tumor in my lower abdomen when I was 21 and I can relate to these experiences. I used to ask question to GOD as to why me? But then when I used to go to Hospital and see other patients with fatal diseases, I used to get my answer.
    However, I can't forget what I suffered and how people started to create distance with me. BUT THANK GOD, I am a better person now as I value life and relations more.

  5. I love this post. I'm going to share it on Facebook.

    I think cute little silly games are fine; but don't pretend they're for a noble cause. Changing your icon to a cartoon is cute and fun; but it really is not going to help abused children.

    I get annoyed by all these copy and paste posts...especially ones that put so much pressure on you to re-post it. And like you said, don't assume all people with a certain condition have the exact same thoughts about the subject.

  6. I get annoyed by these things too. Being ill with any kind of disease is no fun and is no laughing matter.
    Here in England though, we do have a "Fun Run" where everyone wears pink in aid of breast cancer and it raises thousands of pounds!

    Very good post, my dear friend.
    Hugs to you all!

  7. true...some people write these things to gain attraction...some really believes that they are doing something good...but the point is, does it make people who are suffering feel better? what's the point of reminding them to survive...we all will die some lets life be our focus...

  8. These cute little games on FB trivialize cancer and the emotional upheavals a cancer patient has to face.

    I'd rather be part of awareness programs that give diet and lifestyle tips to prevent the disease.

    A very touching post Farila..will share it on FB

  9. agree with all you have to say...


  10. I agree with you too...poignant!

  11. i agree wid u wen u say that these silly games dont save lives. And i would like to add that somewhere these games may be humilating someone.

    Very well written. Keep it up.

  12. couldn't agree more!
    very well said.
    You post is so powerful thanks for your's so hard to deal with any kind of disease.

    big hugs!
    betty xx

  13. You have asked those with real experience of cancer to share their thoughts. I have not. But I hope you don't mind me responding.
    I hold similar views like you do. I did not like the updates and spoke up against them earning myself some antagonism :) I have seen my sister undergo treatment and fight cancer.

  14. Thanks for spearding the positivity.

    From my friend Shail's link

  15. Dear Farida,

    I Sorry that this caused pain to you! I too was the one of the people who posted such a message on FB (just the one about what the cancer survivor wants not the other ones).

    Well, I just want to keep the other perspective here. I am not a cancer survivor and I know I am far from "really understanding" what that struggle is !! But tried reading between the lines and I thought I paid attention to its underlying meaning which to me was :

    "To a cancer survivor, defeating cancer and winning life is more important than any material things in this world. Life is more important than materials of life so come out of it (your material worlds) and support their cause."

    According to me,It does not literally mean that cancer patients do not have wishes or desires, it only means that a smart phone is far less important than life itself.

    Again, un-knowingly we hurt you and may be some others too, who knows. I feel sorry about it.

  16. There is not need to apologize because it did not cause me pain. It kind of irritated me,as it kept coming back again and again. You are right that life is important .. but that is general for all. Not just for cancer survivors. If any person is faced with imminent life threat, then smart phones and cars become irrelevant, but cancer survivors move on. They have the lurking fear at the back of their mind about recurrence and going through all the crap all over again but that doesn't mean they do not love life and the material pleasures of life. In fact a cancer survivor is no different from any other person. I at times do not want to label myself as survivor but then I get messages from newly diagnosed women about how they feel encouraged by my survival against many odds and have hope of survival too, which made me add the survivor thing to my profile.

  17. @Shail and Maddy.. Hi, nice to see you here after a long time. Shail, being a supporter is nearly like being through it ..

  18. Yes farida, I understand your perspective. On the other hand labelling has its own disadvantages, its good to avoid it unless absolutely necessary.

  19. When I see those viral messages on Facebook, I never understand what it has got to do with cancer support. And I can imagine how annoying it must be for a cancer survivor or cancer battler to see this silly messages.
    I loved your post on this topic! It is honest and has no pretenses.

  20. Those darn FB messages bug me, too. Yes, let's focus on life. That's the whole point of enduring cancer and cancer treatment after all.

  21. hmm...i totally agree with u aunty.As a cancer survivor, even I felt the same.sheesh!! People just keep posting up such messages and they never bother to realize how people like us ,after reading such pathetic messages are going to react.
    I dont get it why people think that if a person gets diagonised by cancer then he/she is bound to DIE SOON!!CRAP!!
    I got diagonised when i was 19 yrs old and ever since then i have been goin through a tough time trying to keep it hush coz i never wanted anyone (especially relatives) to know about it. I never wanted them to approach me with simpathetic feelings, aaarrgh !! the thought itself is just annoying and irritating. Its best that if we have faith in ourself and the confidence that we could fight this damn demon inside us with all our might and power, victory will surely be with us. And that is exactly what I am doin for the past 4 years and will continue to do it further.

    oooh..i almost forgot!! Hats off to you aunty for your courageous and bravery that has brought you till here.You know what?! you are truly an inspiration for people like me. I thought i was the only one who was this unfortunate to go through such a hard time but now i have a feeling that i am not all alone..i got company!! :) :)
    god bless you <3 <3


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