Cancer Thriver Vijay Bhat discovered that only if you stop seeing cancer as the enemy, you could work towards your healing. These perspectives have helped him tremendously for over a decade since he faced colon cancer. If you have cancer or know someone with cancer, these insights can make a difference.
When I first heard the diagnosis of cancer, I felt vulnerable and powerless. Power, it seems, was with my doctors, my family, or some higher force. A decade hence, I have realized that most people with cancer never really reclaim that power. And I have come to believe that, at some stage, irrespective of the prognosis, the person experiencing cancer must reclaim it. It is only when we reclaim our power that the rest of life can unfold.
In my own journey, I began to reclaim my power when I started looking at cancer from a different set of lenses.
Statistic or Anecdote?
One thing I discovered very early in this cancer experience was a lot of statistics. Everyone throws statistics at you. And when you look at the statistics, they are chilling. In the western world, 1 in 3 people will get cancer. Of those who get it, 1 in 2 will die from it, etc.
However, I didn’t want to be a “statistic”. I wanted to be an “anecdote”; one of those rare people who overcome statistical odds.
Survivor or thriver?
I have also realized during my journey, that when it comes to Cancer, much of our common language is extremely limiting.
I don’t like being called a “survivor”. I call myself a “cancer-thriver”. I thrive on my cancer. Cancer has made me a better person and I have grown as a result; today the work I do is far more fulfilling than my international corporate career was.
Patient or impatient?
I don’t like the description “cancer patient”. I prefer to be called the “cancer-impatient”, because the kind of subtle messages we get from words like “survivor” and “patient” often suggests something bigger and stronger than us, trying to keep us down, putting a block around us.
We talk about “fighting cancer”, “the cancer monster”, or “the Big C”, but to me the human spirit is far bigger, far stronger, far more optimistic, than anything that cancer can throw at us.
What I learnt from my cancer journey
Very few people, including the best doctors in the world, could give me all the answers I was looking for. Doctors, friends, family, the media and the internet are great resources, but it really does begin (and end) with you. Fortunately, there is plenty that you can and really, must do to reclaim your power.
- How can you go beyond the books and articles and the internet and do your own research?
- What steps can you take to find and connect with those thrivers who have overcome the same diagnosis as you?
- How do you see yourself – cancer statistic or anecdote, survivor or thriver, patient or impatient? What would your thriver story look like?