Breast cancer thriver finds tremendous joy in caring for other cancer patients. All the grace and positivity that she received during her treatment, she believes in giving back to others Let’s explore what this joy of caring actually is.
Breast Cancer Thriver radiant with optimism
I was walking towards the campus gate, when I saw Mrs. V. She – with her unforgettably bright smile and optimistic approach to life – welcomed me as I approached her, and we started one of our regular chats.
Mrs. V is a breast cancer thriver. Four years after her diagnosis, surgery and many rounds of chemotherapy, she says her life is as good as any one else’s and even better in many ways. She believes in using an integrated approach to cancer treatment, using holistic systems of medicine, alongside Allopathic treatments.
“The ultimate healer is God, that is how it has always been”, she says.
There is Always a Way!
Encountering cancer in one’s own body is never easy, but it is even harder to deal with the fact that, as much as it affects our body, cancer affects the mind. However, there is always hope – it’s just a matter of believing that is that there is a way, there has always been a way, even if sometimes it is difficult for us to find it.
Hope often springs from the recognition that you are not alone. There are many thrivers who can offer support and care if you reach out. However, care is not to be confused with sympathy which comes from a space of pity. A person who is diagnosed with cancer only feels supported when care-giving comes from a space of empathy.
What does it mean to be a Carer?
Care-giving has three important components:
- First, care is about access (simply being available – either in person or by phone – whenever needed)
- Second, care is about empathy (letting the patient know they are not alone and that you understand their situation)
- Third, care is about hope (opening up new options to deal with things, with a positive expectation)
Research shows that good care is almost magical – it not only enhances the patient’s healing process, but also enables the care-giver’s growth. Many patients who are recovering or have recovered recognise the value of good care, and they are inspired to volunteer their time and provide care to others.
Caring for a cancer patient
Caring is a natural human instinct, and in the case of cancer, there is a ‘ring-of-truth’ and a ‘spark-of-recognition’ when one person who has experienced cancer talks to another. (Some people say it is better than talking to a doctor!) Mrs. V is one such volunteer care-giver. After her own recovery, she has taken the initiative to increase awareness and provide support to people facing similar situations.
“When you realize that you may die soon, you often forget that everyone has to die someday or the other. In many cases people who have to deal with the reality of death will shut themselves away from the rest of the world. What do you do then? Well, as a care giver you must understand that inside, they are longing for someone to reach out to them, and most of the time care may come in the form of one simple friendly conversation” says Mrs.V.
Dealing with cancer is not easy, but isn’t that true of life itself? Fortunately with cancer, as with Life, there are people who enjoy listening patiently and to talk about the most difficult challenges. To give care (and to receive it) with open arms requires a willingness to accept situations as they are and be willing to reciprocate with understanding and kindness.
Human touch in caregiving
Cancer is difficult enough, as it is; our social stigmas and taboos have only made it worse. It is paradoxical that when people are most fragile and vulnerable, our approach to their treatment is so mechanical and aggressive. Instead of using holistic measures (dealing with the whole person) as a last resort, it is time to make these approaches more mainstream.
It is also time to change our notions about care-giving from something that is only ‘nice-to-have’ to something important, a ‘must-have’. It is time for more people to openly ask for care and for more people to reach out and give it. Remember that you are not alone. We are and will always be with you.
- Have you ever cared for someone in a time of great need? Tell us what you did … and how they responded!
- Have you ever been ‘cared for’ … how did it feel and how did you benefit?
Shalini Sinha is a student of Communications at Mt Carmel College, Bangalore. Reading and writing are her passion, so contributing to Cancer Awakens has been an immense pleasure for her. She has learnt quite a lot in the process and believes Cancer CAN be overcome, like every other problem in this world.