I Survived Cancer: By Dr. Rita Banik

how i survived cancer

Through poem ‘I survived cancer’, Dr. Rita Banik explores her relationship with cancer. What is cancer after all? A friend or a foe? 

The never uttered word:  Cancer
The word that fills our heart with grief
Cold and numb it turns our feet
The word never spoken
The word that haunts …

For how long?

How long shall we go on fearing?
How long shall we keep running away?
The more we run, the faster it chases
The faster you erase the quicker it traces!

Perhaps not in you, but in someone else
Not in your family but in a friend …
Like today …
I got the news of her metastatic cancer
But did it scare me off?
No, not any more.
Now I am not that scared of the word
On the other hand
It invokes anger.
The anger returns as sharp as a knife
Every time an acquaintance is diagnosed
Every time cancer wipes a life

My anger has a dual nature
One towards cancer
For taking a life
For hurting a family
Disgust for my inability to fight
To throw it out forever
My anger is also directed towards our society
The society that freaks out at the ‘C’ word
That creates the so called norms
Of not speaking about our body

What is cancer after all?
Just a cell
A kind of cell that knows not how to multiply
The ugly, shapeless cell that wanders in the body
For no organ wants it around
It is homeless …
Therefore, it moves
And moves fast
So as not to get caught
Multiplies faster
For its own existence
For its own survival

Unaware of how it harms
Unaware of the havoc it creates

But that one tiny irregular cell in the body
Alarms us right from its birth
Come on, it is time for a checkup
For clinical examinations
For screening tests

But we pay no heed
WE are the ones who neglect its presence
WE are the ones who let it prosper
WE find all the time for party and play
But we hesitate to visit the doctor
Until … with each tick of the clock
The cell grows into a tumor
Until it gets large and uncontrollable
Until it turns fatal

So I wish to seek an answer
Is cancer a friend that warns?
Just before its arrival,
Or a foe with thorns
That enters our body
Simply to make a cozy room for itself?

To read more about Rita Banik’s story, click here 


  • How do you see your cancer – as a friend who cautions you about a risky lifestyle that or a foe who is trying to destroy you? Why?
  • What would you say, if you had to spill your heart out in a letter to your cancer? What would it reveal about your relationship with cancer?


If I survived Cancer, so can you,Dr. Rita Banik is a breast-cancer thriver. After her diagnosis in 2006, she underwent a mastectomy and subsequently, breast-reconstruction surgery.  In 2008, she published her first book: “Kick The Beast Out Of Your Life”, which is distributed free of cost. Her message to all is ‘if I survived cancer, so can you’. Rita is actively involved with the breast cancer advocacy movement and has attended international courses and conferences on the subject. Currently, she works as a Co-ordinator for the Welfare & Development of Girls at the Pd. Deendayal Petroleum University (PDPU), Gandhinagar, Gujarat.



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