Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Recuperate - Respect Your Rebirth


Sometimes you might feel like no one’s there for you, but you know who’s always there for you? :Laundry. Laundry is always there for you.

We all read and laugh at this joke, but that is also the harsh reality for many people, especially women. Days get lost in cleaning, cooking and caretaking without a break. Many feel that this is how it should be and don’t even think of changing this situation. But if you have just fought to save your life from cancer, it is like having a rebirth. You have to respect this rebirth and let yourself recuperate before getting back to your work - be it professional or everyday mundane chores which are always awaiting you. Of course, getting back to work gives your morale a boost and that is the best thing to shift your focus to something positive, but do not ignore the body which has borne the onslaught of surgery, with chemotherapy and radiation to follow.

Life was never the same after undergoing my surgery for breast cancer. Usually when you come back home after a treatment, it is over but with cancer, that is just the beginning of your treatment course. There is still chemotherapy and radiation therapy waiting in line. For some, the chemotherapy comes before surgery. Lenny Kravitz sang about love saying “It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over”, but if it was about cancer he would sing “ It Ain't Over 'even when It's Over” … the saga continues for years to come with fears about lumps, follow ups and some scary findings which may later turn out be benial.

I will be talking only about recuperating from breast cancer treatment here, based on my own experience, though it applies for any grave illness you have fought, be it a heart surgery, recovery from an accident or any thing that would have given you near brush with death.

I consider my life after cancer to be my rebirth, because it was a close encounter with death. Having lost both my sister and mom to breast cancer similar to mine, I know I am not exaggerating. The whole course of treatment does not go easy on your body either. More than cancer, it is the treatment and coping with changes that drains your energy. You have to give yourself care and time to recuperate properly before taxing yourself for everything that is waiting for you to get done. How is that when there are chores, it is like we are the only people in the house?

For me at stage III breast cancer, it was surgery first followed by chemotherapy. Total radical mastectomy left a wound covering half of my chest with removable stitches. There was drain attached to the bandage to stop fluid collection in the area of surgery. I woke up to intravenous fluids going inside my body and a groggy mind. It made me feel like I was waking up to a different body than the one I went to sleep with when anesthesia kicked in. I found myself a stranger.

It’s normal to have pain and discomfort for the first week or so around the wound. I had pain in my armpit (axilla) since I had surgery to my lymph nodes, and good choice. 10 were positive. I also had a tingling feeling and itch around the surgery wound. The skin around it felt very taut under the bandage. I had to move around carrying the drain bottle in my hand which had fluid collection. When I was dealing with all these changes and trauma to my body, I had many things waiting for me, and yes - there was that legendary laundry basket with my daughters nappies. I am proud I managed well, but I am not happy about it.

I never had time to recuperate considering my daughter was just 11 months and with special needs. My son was not even 5. My family was going through a difficult crisis and we lost my elder sister to breast cancer when I was undergoing chemotherapy first cycle. My husband was not very helpful either. I couldn’t afford the luxury of rest to recuperate from my cancer treatment but started off with my struggles immediately.

I know I have survived for 25 years since. Yet, why do I talk about recuperating now is because I still remember how difficult it was for me to even lift my hand to comb my hair, or get up and fetch myself a glass of water. I did a lot during my treatment, but it brought in a lot of physical pain and also emotional pain to know I couldn’t rest. I had once asked my little son for a glass of water and he was so excited to be of help, and believe me it was like I was saved from fighting a boxing match with Mike Tyson. Yes, even fetching myself a glass of water was difficult on a few days when side-effects kicked in.

I want people around the person going through treatment to know that is not an easy journey for them. Be supportive and step in to help. Allow them to rest for a few days, especially on those days when the treatment is tougher than other days. I also want the person fighting cancer to know that they deserve the basic necessity of rest to recuperate and regain their health completely. It is OK to ask for help.

Relax with Maxine now..



  1. While I'm sorry your recuperation journey was so difficult, I'm glad you're sharing your wisdom. And "respect your rebirth" is a beautiful reminder.

    1. Actually the difficulty made me stronger both physically and emotioanlly :). All is well if it ends well.

  2. Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting about parables. Your memes about housework made me smile after your serious post.

  3. Beautiful advice. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

  4. Hey Farida,
    Maxine and the quote about laundry was so needed today:) Thank you.

    After reading your post today, your decision to go for the surgery 25 years ago, makes even more sense. To lose your mother and sisters to cancer must've been heart-breaking and scary.
    Your children are blessed to have you as their mother.
    Despite all your struggles and challenges, you come across as a source of light for all those may be going through similar travails.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Arti, Maxine needed everyday for us to keep our sanity intact. Thank you for your encouraging and flattering words. Feels good to read..LOL

  5. I'm trying to imagine your everyday life. Apart from your children, what kept your spirit up?
    You are definitely living proof of how it's important to never give up.


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