From one cancer thriver to another. Vijay Bhat shares his experiences and learnings from his cancer journey with Indian cricketer, Yuvraj Singh who was also diagnosed with cancer. Read on for some valuable lessons that could help you as well.
I would like to introduce myself as Vijay Bhat (a 10-year cancer survivor after colon cancer, based in Bangalore) and I would like to share this letter with you, with the hope and prayer that a ‘fighter’ like you will overcome and transcend this difficult experience.
This message is for you and all the brave ‘thrivers’ everywhere, who are grappling with this game-changer called cancer. The world of cricket and every single Indian suffered a shock when you, our World Cup hero, was diagnosed with cancer. The doosra that life bowled to you has deeply affected millions of your fans, including us at Cancer Awakens. We write this open letter to support you, while you take the crease on this sticky wicket.
While cancer statistics are deadly and baffling, they ignore the thousands of individuals and families who have successfully overcome cancer, both in India and around the world. We call such people ‘anecdotes’ because through their experience, they inspire many others to follow them. Since you are a ‘fighter’ yourself, you will surely resonate with these five qualities which the anecdotes display
1. Reclaim your Power
Cancer makes you feel vulnerable, fragile and powerless. The doctors, your family members, even your priest …they seem to have the power in your situation and tell you what to do and what not to do, albeit with the best intent.
While this may be fine in the early days, it is unfortunate that most people who get cancer never really reclaim their power.
But at some point, irrespective of the prognosis, you must reclaim your power. It is only when you take charge of yourself and take responsibility for your actions that your ‘new’ life can unfold. Otherwise you are living on someone else’s terms, not yours.
2. Take the Fork in the Road
Unlike most other illnesses, cancer is not a ‘bump,’ a minor hurdle you can go over, but a ‘fork’ in the road: cancer requires you not only to change your priorities and the intensity with which you live but to actually take a new direction, something Life is pushing you towards.
However tempting it may be to go back to your life as it was, this option is likely to be unrealistic. You need to be strong enough, both physically and emotionally, to look inwards and find that new and purposeful path. Paradoxically, there is research to show that those who take the fork in the road have a better chance of being an anecdote than a statistic.
3. Access your Inner Resources
Cancer is a mysterious disease and most people feel unprepared and under-resourced to deal with it. While our natural tendency is to look for resources outside, the real wisdom and insight into your choices can only be activated when you access your inner resources of character, courage and resilience.
There is no dearth of available information outside, but it is either too clinical/technical to absorb or it consists of diverse and unproven theories that are difficult to synthesize. This can be a real challenge for you to muddle through so it is far better to find your inner compass first and use it to sift, sort and select the most appropriate external resources.
4. Focus on the Quality (not Quantity) of Life
Modern society’s preoccupation with extending one’s life as much as possible often becomes an obsession with cancer because the statistics nudge us to measure life in terms of weeks, months and sometimes years, rather than in decades.
The anecdotes march to a different drum beat: they focus on how well they can live rather than how long they should live. They focus on living positively, creatively and spontaneously, enjoying the moment rather than living for the next birthday. Interestingly, studies show that improving your quality of life can indirectly increase your quantity of life!
5. Offer your insights and experience to help others
The anecdotes not only experience this compassion within but also turn it into action so that other people can benefit. They commit their time, effort, and money (if they can afford it) towards volunteer work, for instance, working with support groups and advocacy-based activities.
Modern medicine now accepts that compassionate service is a positive and therapeutic activity that nourishes and revitalizes the giver as much as it does the receiver; reaching out to help others contributes to one’s own healing
While these insights may be provocative, we hope that you will find them to be useful in your own journey. If you would like to know more about a holistic and integrated approach to cancer and how it can support your medical treatments (and never to replace them), please take a look at our free online resources at www.youtube.com/cancerawakens.
And feel free to contact us with any queries; we’ll be delighted to help.
As a parting message, we want you to know that our team at Cancer Awakens and I, along with the entire nation, is with you in this time of trial and we look forward to see you striding out on that pitch, with your blade flowing!
Vijay Bhat (and The Cancer Awakens team)