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Dear Friend Cancer

“Oh my god, is it Cancer” – the very expression itself on hearing it would leave an indelible hint of shock on the bearer! An important part of coping with cancer diagnosis and further treatment lies in recognizing feelings, walking with the affected person hand-in-hand and putting your arms around them offering complete assurance. Unfortunately in India, the attitude towards cancer is almost similar to that of TB/HIV infection. For instance, in Kerala the south Indian state that prides about for being most literate, talking about cancer is considered a taboo or even a social embarrassment. Going through chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone treatments etc. would mean a real ordeal, coping up with uneasiness, lack of appetite, experiencing mood swings, nausea, even suicidal tendencies and often being ostracized. All these would make the post-diagnostic phase a traumatic event. Often, these poor souls carry emotional ailments owing to the context also leading to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD).

Here is a narration of the author's own life. This is a real life incident known to the kith and kin, co-workers, religious persons, neighbourhood, and well-wishers of the author. Well, it’s about his own parents who had to face cancer in their retirement life. Self-inflicted negativity and undue stress because of the presence of an uninvited guest (Cancer) in one’s life could be very frustrating. No matter what, holding your ground and extending diplomatic terms with this mysterious uninvited friend (Cancer), would mean coping up with a situation not everyone would be familiar with. The author's dad's recovery from Stage IV (terminal) to zilch is a perfect example of it. The author tells his story, being of assistance to his parents helping them boldly face cancer.

Being aware, making a few tweaks in one's own life and family members too adapting to the situation, staying positive and making sincere efforts to continue the good life from past is what the author would leave the reader to reflect upon and explore hints that are good to adopt. The author has made a modest attempt to inspire everybody out there who knows a cancer patient, is a care taker, an oncologist, is a cancer survivor, someone thinking of helping a person who has cancer and for creating awareness. The approach of looking at cancer as an uninvited guest instead of seeing it as a terrible experience and learning to cope up with this new stranger guest is a better strategy than finding oneself in a state of irony.


Happy reading!        

Dr. Anish Mathew John

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