Tuesday, March 30, 2021

#25SilverLinings - Accusations Follow Cancer

A casual picture clicked to remember me before treatment began

When diagnosed, “Why me?” I had asked and looked around to find an answer. There was no one who could answer me. That was the good part. What was my mistake was that I  asked again and again out loud to people who were waiting with answers.  

Prompt came the answers, “It is your Karma coming back to you. You have been a bad person, and this is God’s way of teaching you to obey his way of life, and pray to him”. 

“You were so proud that God decided to teach you a lesson”

“Maybe you will finally learn to cover yourself well in Burkha. You will not want people to see you with one breast”. Ouch.. I was not ready to hear this. I was still wrapping my mind around this thought of being one breasted. 

“There must be something wrong with your family. First your dad, then your sister and now you, that means you people are cursed”. 

“It looks like your parents devotion to that guy ‘Sai Baba’ is what is causing cancer in your family. That vibhuti is burnt ash and may cause cancer”.

“Looks like cancer is contagious”

Those were not the answers I was expecting, but I deserved it for posing the question in front of people who were wearing those heavy blindfolds. I was also with a blindfold, looking blindly for love where it did not exist. 

My younger sister had asked me, “Don’t you feel insulted when they say God punished you with cancer?”

I laughed out loud at that question before answering her “You think I should feel insulted with that statement? I am worried about God and how he feels about it”. 

The girl was confused, “How so?” she asked. 

“Imagine a powerful being who says ‘obey everything I say blindly or else I will give you cancer’, what kind of an image you get of that being. Do you think of him/her as a protective creator? Do you feel this being is God? Doesn’t that sound like an insult to God rather than me?”

“Huh?” she was now lost in confusion or thoughts. My poor sister (and sometimes my brother) is confused with my thought process. It is Rayyan who understands me clearly or gives clarity where I have lost it. 

I stopped asking the question, because there was no right answer; or, if there was a right answer, it served no purpose at all. The fact was there in front of me, I had Grade III, Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma, which meant I had to fight for my life or die suffering. 

Questions and right answers were for exams, where I had fared good. This was time for action and not inviting accusations by being vulnerable, weak, victim and sad. Neither the right nor the wrong answer to the question ‘Why Me?’ would change anything in the scenario. 

I really needed a shoulder to lean on for support at the time, but unfortunately either the shoulders were burdened themselves, occupied or unavailable. The two tiny shoulders of my children were not meant for support, so I decided to take it all on my own. 

Initially I wanted to discuss the course of treatment, choice of surgery, following treatment and other things with my husband, because I thought he was a part of this battle. But, within a week we had enough communication where accusations were thrown at me. Like any victim, I got the “You invited it” treatment. Though I felt sad and broken for a moment, I became stronger with every passing day. As they say, the scar tissue is always harder and stronger than the original skin. 

That monster cancer had timed its move well. It had found me when I was quite vulnerable. Cancer came into my life when I was nearing rock bottom of my life. It was those dark days when my sister made the decision to fight cancer the wrong way and was nearing the last stage of prognosis. I was struggling to find a proper diagnosis and mode of treatment for my daughter who had brain atrophy. My family was going through a financial crisis and there were a lot more of those hot spices added to this cauldron of my life. In this entire struggle when I was trying to balance myself like a rope walker that cancer made its appearance, shaking the rope I was walking on with rough jerks. Though my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer 2 years earlier, I did not expect myself to get it. No one expects to get cancer, no matter what is the risk factor involved in their genes, lifestyles or fate. In fact, since my sister and dad had already gone through cancer, we had decided that was the end of it. It cannot happen ever again, but in this case cancer had the last say. It had two more targets in view, me and much later my mom. 

If this was the situation any character from TV serial or Movie lands in, people pull out tissue papers and shed tears. But, in real life it is different. You are accused of being the sufferer, a person who is hounded by bad luck, you are making life miserable for others and you are the criminal. I wanted to live my life and prove to those people that I was not a criminal. I can not only smile through my tears, but wipe away tears from other people’s life as well. 

People talk a lot about how family support, love, and all other rainbow colored stuff helped them survive cancer, but honestly in my case it was the negativism from the nasty people that helped me fight hard. I had to show them that they were not right! It doesn’t matter anymore today, but back then it was a great motivator for me not to succumb to cancer. It is like what they say; when life throws lemons at you make lemonade. I had negativism thrown at me and I changed into a motivational factor. After all ‘shit’ is good manure. 

I decided on the date, the doctor, the hospital, and course of treatment - all on my own. I am glad I did that because I must have made all the right choices. I am still here breathing and typing this. At that time, the fierceness I felt within me must have already made cancer pee in its pants. Yes, I was going to win this, I had no other option. I was quite determined to live and prove myself if not to others, at least to myself.

The boy who stood with me


The  girl who motivated me

The woman who was fighting it out

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