It took me a while to compose my words & write down about breast cancer. An epidemic like breast cancer is not easy to write about, especially if you know someone who died because of it. It seriously makes me wonder, how does one cope up with knowing they have an incurable disease. I have been reading people’s stories of how they went through it and literally, I cried. The reason I am writing this blog post is to let all women know that we are here for each other and how we can help someone to cope with this dreadful news.
My aunt who was in her 40’s, passed away because of breast cancer. Her journey was really painful and I saw her body change with every passing hour. But I think with the disease God also gives the strength to deal with it. I am also going to share a story of a friend whose name I am keeping confidential. I am very close to her. Her mother died of breast Cancer as well. I reached out to her so that if she can share her experience, it might help others. Let’s read her side of the story and then we can talk about how to support them.
About 9 years ago, she found out but she hid it and always looked for ways to help others. Only if she told us earlier there might have been an easier cure. Only if she told me or even her own mother things would have been different. Maybe she would be still around living the terrific life she dreamt with her family, her grandchildren.
This story is about a great woman, a strong woman. But there was one mistake she did. When she felt a lump, she didn’t share her fear. She had 1st stage cancer then. it was really little. She first thought it was something that would just go away. But it grew. In about two months, yes only two months she reached stage two. She went to the doctor with her sister and there she got the devastating news.
With emotions, anger, and worry in our minds, all we wanted was her to be better. The very moment I found out about the Breast cancer I felt an ache in my heart. I could see the fear in her eyes, she knew she wouldn’t survive. But she was so strong. We consulted the specialist and her Chemotherapy started. The doctor was very hopeful and all we could do was pray.
We are what we eat so we started a special diet for mom. we introduced her to broccoli, carrots, and cabbages. I googled and it said they had cancer-fighting agents. we also started green tea. After her first Chemo, she lost her long locks. That is when I broke, but she stood strong. The strong medicine gave her mouth and throat blisters which made her hard to eat. Even a pinch of spice gave a burning sensation in her throat. We avoided any sort of hot or spicy food, only healthy food. I would eat what I made for her to encourage her and make her feel like everything’s normal.
We bought her tons of fancy pretty scarfs to cover her head and feel beautiful but she chooses to show her head and feel strong and proud. Things got difficult as she went through her fourth Chemo and finally the chemo came to the end. The lump did reduce but she got weak, very weak and more prone towards other illnesses.
The cancer was acting up again, so the doctor suggested Radiation Therapy. He was not very hopeful, though. The Cancer reached the third stage and we didn’t know what to do. The family decided to go with what the Dr suggested. I could see her drifting apart. She was still very tough. Everyone had cried, but her. In august, her radiation therapy started. In a blink of an eye, cancer spread to the whole body and she got admitted. We got upset with the Dr, we thought this was a cure but were unsure what went wrong. She was way beyond the curing stage and things got worse with time.
If only she told us before they would have taken out the left breast with the lump and she could have survived. On September 8, She passed away. On the death bed, I could see how beautiful and relaxed she looked. Her worries were lifted. Ours had begun. A life without a mother is as if you’re an orphan. Daddy loves us a lot. But my mother is my life line. Even in today’s date, I look up to her, I imagine her in front of me and share my worries with her and ask her what she would have done and then I move forward. I am a daughter of a very strong woman, a successful woman.
The one thing I learned from this is when you feel anything, even anything tiny, go to a doctor. Taking precautions is best. Your one decision can, take your life or make it. You have to be strong and open-minded to accept challenges. Even after so much success and technology in this world, science has not yet discovered the cure for Cancer. 4 out of 10 families have someone with Cancer among their loved ones.
Have mammograms, week check-ups ( self-examination of the breast), eat healthily, don’t drink water if it has been in the car overnight, don’t microwave food and if you have to, don’t use plastic Tupperware. Use Pyrex or glass storages without the plastic lids on. Life is a gift of God. You will live till your destined but how you live is up to you. I’m proud of my mom. and I miss her dearly. There have been lucky people who have survived this dreadful disease but there are some who martyred. Best of luck to all Cancer patients. I wish you a healthy recovery. Ameen
Never Stop Believing because miracles happen everyday.
That was extremely heart-touching. Every time I read it, it reminds me of her mother & what an amazing, loving and caring person she was. I am sure she smiles from up there and feel proud of her daughter. My aunt’s case was pretty similar too. Her cancer spread within a week and we lost her. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Someone who’s around 40 looked like she was 80 years old, all because of radiation. I seriously salute people who gather the courage to go through it. It’s not an easy procedure at all.
Finding out that one has been diagnosed with cancer, is going to shake up a person. At that time, we should know how we can help them cope with it. There are numerous ways and one way doesn’t fit all, let’s see some of the things I jot down.
1.Listen: Seek first to understand then to be understood, remember this from Seven Habits. At a time like this, what really matters is someone who could listen and understand. Going through cancer is not easy & what could be worse is an annoying friend who is more keen to judge than understand.
2.Develop Empathy: Don’t just show care, really understand their situation. Try being in their shoes to know what’s going on in their mind. Let her cry and vent out if that makes her feel better. It’s hard for cancer patients to socialize because of chemotherapy, it leaves a weird taste in their mouth and they don’t enjoy drinks or food. Don’t let them feel left out, plan a movie night or read a book together.
3.Asking for Help is Okay: Let them understand, they are not the only ones. There is nothing embarrassing in asking for help or accepting help. Only the luckiest people have friends who genuinely love and care for them, remind them how lucky they are.
4.Do their Chores: With time the body gets weak. Picking up a grocery bag cause aches all over the body. Give them a helping hand, offer to do their groceries.
5.Don’t Change the Way You Treat Them: It’s natural that our behavior automatically changes when we know someone is sick. We become extra caring, extra sweet and extra loving. It’s just that sometimes it is a bit annoying. Treating them with too much caution and care can remind them of their vulnerability. Our main motive is to ease it for them not remind them of cancer with our behavior.
6. Physical Appearance: It’s very challenging for women to go through chemotherapy. They loose their hair even eyebrows, for women their hair is considered a big sign of beauty. If a woman chooses to go for mastectomy (removal of the breast) make sure you remind her how important her health is and breasts don’t define women. There is so much more to her than just that. Don’t forget to compliment her as much as you can. Friends always look up to their girls for approval.
Though, It’s easier said than done. but always give it your best shot.
7.Stay Positive: Don’t let her feel that cancer controls her life. Assuring her, that life is so much more than this, it might help in staying positive. Focus on achievable short-term goals, family trips, etc, they will make her feel more in control of her life. Reading inspirational stories of survivors and joining a support group with patients who have similar health challenges, this will give her hope.
This is not easy. Being in this situation is tough as well but just remember it’s not as tough as the one who is actually going through it. Your kind words & support can change someone’s point of view & can give them the will to live. In a lot of cases, the patient loses the will to live. The surviving chances are higher for cases where the patient has a more positive approach towards life. Sit tight and be there for your friend, lover, wife, sister, whoever it is. Get them pretty headscarves, go shopping with them, do all the things they want to do.
Remind them how beautiful they are., every day, every hour and every second.