Power of hope!!

October, 2018

A few days back my friend called me with a strange request. He said “I don’t know why this lady feels I can answer her but am sure you can. Can I share your number with her ? Can you please take her call ?” No sooner had I disconnected, than I got a call from one Mrs. MK. She was very anxious and confused. She was an artist with her own studio and was my friend’s customer, sourcing her art materials from his store. She didn’t know him all that well but something in him gave her the confidence that he could guide her properly. Well, my friend himself didn’t think so because the question was about cancer treatment. He promptly directed Mrs. MK to me, confident that I should be able to boost her confidence. Mrs. MK had completed her breast cancer surgery and was to start her chemotherapy the next day. And here she was asking a complete stranger like me “Ma’am please guide me if I should go in for the chemo or skip it ? I am totally confused since some people are asking me to go ahead while my children and a few others are saying it has too many side effects and is not required. In any case surgery is done and you are in advanced stage, what use is chemo ? I am in a dilemma. Will I lose my hair ? where will I get a wig ? can I continue with my studio ? will I lead a normal life thereafter ?” She had the typical questions and anxiety as I could make out from her voice. I allayed her fears and assured her that she must go by her doctor’s advice and not by what others say. While chemo has its side effects, she must not find short-cuts and avoid the treatment. Since the reply came to her from a cancer survivor (leading a normal life since the last 5 years) who had gone through the pain and was speaking from first hand experience, she seemed to have bought my words. At the end of the call, she sounded more certain, less confused and more confident to go ahead with her next round of treatment. She trusted me since she knew I had been on a similar journey before her and would only wish her well, as a ‘senior-comrade’.

I felt happy that I gave hope and courage to a total stranger. Fear of Suffering had turned to Power of Suffering. Yes, I felt suffering empowers us because we can relate to it better, if we have survived some crises in life – be it illness, be it financial, be it emotional. We can bring conviction and credibility to what we say. And offer succour and hope through words and deeds. If a mere phone call can help someone take a life-impacting decision, just imagine what power we have within us to reach out to others as a group. In this regard, headquartered in Bangalore, Pink Hope Support is a cancer survivor’s group working closely with patients and caregivers in many different ways across cities. Pink Hope Connect is a monthly programme involving talks and activities around cancer open to all. Last Saturday, as part of the Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (September), we had a talk by a leading paediatric oncologist, Dr. Intezar Mehdi of HCG, aptly titled “Let it go, Let it fly”. Many parents and children (survivors leading normal life) spoke as well.

Let me share some key takeaways :
– Don’t waste time shopping for doctors
– Seek help. Don’t disconnect from outside world. Share. Talk to positive people.
– Don’t google. Be part of a group.
– Yoga does wonders
– Don’t ask ‘why’. Ask ‘How’. In childhood cancer cases, rest assured “Nothing I could have done to prevent”. Answer is UNKNOWN. Answer lies in how to treat.
– 70% of childhood cancer is cured. They need normal lives thereafter.
– Children’s open mind reinforces a positive attitude. They cure faster.
– Live your today. Don’t worry about recurrence.

Dear readers, you can choose what you want to from the above. Not all are cancer-specific. But they are ‘Hope-specific’ !

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