The big ‘C’

The Hitavada - - THEOPINIONPAGE - By SU­MIT PAUL

RE­CENTLY, vet­eran ac­tress Nafisa Ali had been di­ag­nosed with Stage 3 Cancer. Son­ali Ben­dre was also di­ag­nosed with a rare type of cancer a few months ago and ac­tor Ir­rfan Khan is also com­ing to terms with it. The hero of the Bat­tle of Longe­wala in 1971 Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chand­puri died of cancer a week ago. The de­press­ing list is end­less.

Or­di­nary peo­ple are also be­ing di­ag­nosed with cancer. The Big C seems to have be­come en­demic. As a cancer pa­tient (suf­fer­ing from ex­tremely rare Myeloid Leukemia), I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced that the very di­ag­no­sis of this fright­en­ing dis­ease de­bil­i­tates a per­son. It changes life and all your per­cep­tions in a jiffy. I re­mem­ber, when I was di­ag­nosed with blood-cancer, my first ques­tion to the on­col­o­gist was, “Is my type fa­tal? Will I sur­vive?” The tac­i­turn doc­tor said in a mat­ter-of-fact way, “You can. If you want to.”

That was the turn­ing point of my life. ‘You can. If you want to,’ is the mantra that over­comes not just any ob­sta­cle in life but also pre­vails over a dread­ful dis­ease like cancer. Granted, the very word cancer un­nerves a per­son, but when you let it sink in, it’s just a dis­ease rather than Big C as it’s now called. Be­ing a cancer pa­tient, it’s eas­ier and much more au­then­tic for me to say this be­cause I’ve never al­lowed cancer to get the bet­ter of me. I be­lieve with the French ex­is­ten­tial­ist Al­bert Ca­mus that ‘There’s no fate that can­not be sur­mounted with scorn.’ Auto-sug­ges­tion dur­ing cancer has been found to be ex­tremely ben­e­fi­cial to the pa­tient.

Re­peat­edly say­ing that I’ll tri­umph over it helps mirac­u­lously. Be­ing a com­plete athe­ist and hav­ing ab­so­lutely no faith in the so-called power of prayers, my way to give two hoots to blood-cancer has been the auto-sug­ges­tion that I’ll de­feat it. Auto-sug­ges­tions ac­ti­vate neu­rons and control the toxic af­fects of any dis­ease spreading fur­ther in the body. I of­ten won­der how I’ve been able to sur­vive de­spite a cou­ple of on­col­o­gists ‘pre­dict­ing’ that I’d not sur­vive for more than a brace of years. I knew that the day of death was predestined. So, why should I worry? Death can ar­rive any­time and in any form. So let it be in the form of cancer. Once you be­come blase and ut­terly non­cha­lant about some­thing in life, it stops wor­ry­ing you. That I’ve fully ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing my relentless bat­tle with cancer.

I’ve be­come in­dif­fer­ent to it and ac­cepted it as a part of my life. It’s ac­cep­tance that gives you as­sur­ance. It’s not a sense of res­ig­na­tion but a sense of in­evitabil­ity which is not akin to throw­ing in the towel. Once an on­col­o­gist told me that drugs and medicines would work only when you’d make peace with your state of body. Then it’d no longer be a nag­ging ail­ment.

A pos­i­tive at­ti­tude to­wards life helps. I’ve also re­alised that griev­ances and re­sent­ments must be done away with when one is di­ag­nosed with cancer or any in­cor­ri­gi­ble dis­ease. In fact, you don’t have to make ef­forts to for­get them be­cause na­ture makes us in a man­ner that when one gets af­flicted with a life-threat­en­ing dis­ease, he/she au­to­mat­i­cally mel­lows down. All my re­sent­ments, prior to get­ting di­ag­nosed with cancer, van­ished. I’ve no grudges against any­one any longer. Cancer made me more gen­er­ous and com­pas­sion­ate!

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