During one of ICS’s Emotional Support Group (ESG) counselling sessions, I met another volunteer – a charming young girl in her mid- twenties. During the introduction I found out that she was a Cancer survivor. She greeted me with a broad smile and I noticed the twinkle in her eyes. She sported a neat short bob cut hair style and had a petite frame. I told myself, I am meeting a survivor for the first time in my life.
She completed her Cancer treatment only a few months back and here she was keen to offer her support to other people suffering from the disease. She instantly became part of our small team of counsellors, the youngest amongst us.
Over a cup of coffee in the hospital lobby, she said she was happy to be part of ICS’s ESG team. She gradually opened up and started sharing her story. I sat there and listened very keenly.
When the test reports confirmed a stage of Carcinoma, the news hit her very hard – it wasn’t easy for this newly wed, beautiful girl to digest it. She showed me some of her wedding and pre-chemo photos ….. I was awestruck to see her beautiful thick locks of hair. She had always been complimented for her pretty hair……and now she was worried about losing it during Chemotherapy. But she found a way to cope with it – she went for a short hair style even before the Chemo sessions started.
As we sipped our coffee, she showed me her hand….there was a black patch on her arm which she said hurts and itches. I realized even after the treatment gets over, one has to deal with many other health issues and after-effects of the treatment. Though the battle doesn’t get over completely, what is important is to retain one’s inner courage, grit, positivity and determination. And this young woman was doing things the right way – she didn’t let her worries and pains boggle her down. Having a background in Counselling, she brought her expertise, experience, enthusiasm, and eagerness to counsel Cancer patients and caregivers in the hospital.
In one of my counselling sessions at the hospital, I met a young man in Oncology day care. His main concern and worry was his loss of hair. He whined that it was difficult for him to hide his illness from others. Though he could cover his head, he couldn’t explain the loss of his eyelids and eyebrows. I reassured him that it was a temporary phase and his hair will be back once the Chemo sessions are over. He nodded his head, but I could understand that he wasn’t convinced. So, I instantly connected him to my new friend.
She pulled out her mobile, and showed him a picture of herself during the Chemo treatment. All she said was “This is how I looked while I underwent Chemo, and look at me now.” That instantly brought a sense of hope and cheer to the young man. There was an immediate connect between them. Both of them started a chat…a conversation that was important to both of them. While she gave him hope, the exchange energized her from within.
Her story reminded me of Stuart Scott’s statement on his fight with Cancer:
‘You beat Cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.’