The big ‘C’
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!