For now, if you or anyone close to you is going through cancer, much beyond science, befriend spirituality.
There are a few words that strike such fear in the heart that one prays they never get associated with us or our families. Terrorist attacks, rape, and yes, cancer. As a young girl of 23, I was living my life to the hilt. Friends, partying, fun, developing my professional base... ah, life was only looking up. And just when I thought, with a big grin, could life get any better, the reply that life gave stumped me. Our family of four (dad, mom, Nidhi, my sister, and I) was never the same again.
It was just another evening and we were all doing what we did best. Mom was talking on phone, dad was watching news, I was typing away on my laptop and my sister was chatting with a friend. The phone rang. Just a couple of days ago mom had done a mammogram for a strange looking lump in her right breast. My aunt, who was a gynaecologist, had done the tests at her clinic. I picked the phone and I could hear her sombre voice; I instantly knew something was wrong. A sentence is all it took to know: “Sunila has cancer, Megha, and it’s not looking good.” The entire family sensed the shift and as I shared the news, we all just looked at one another and spontaneous tears started flowing. Until then, cancer had always seemed to be something that happened to someone’s someone or to someone in films. To hear about it from close quarters, seemed scary to say the least.
We went through the process of meeting people, meeting doctors, charting the entire treatment for her. However, something that stayed with all of us was a visit from a cancer survivor who had defeated cancer about a decade ago. She said, “If you get typhoid, you will take medicines and get healed. If you get malaria, you won't go through depression. And so it is with cancer. Treat it like a word, like any other disease and that’s how you will be able to take it. Don’t make it larger than life and it won’t engulf you.” Somehow all of us took to this and after the initial shock none of us ever saw cancer as the BIG C, or a death sentence. We saw it like malaria and typhoid—something that would come and go.
We have a spiritual mentor in whom we all had complete faith. So, even as the doctors told us that she had little time to live as it was in the advanced stage, we didn’t really believe it. Our thought process was, respect the doctor, let him do what he is best at, but beyond that he cannot determine the destiny of a person. Our guru Mahatria Ra told us, “Your mum is a fighter, she is going to fight this through.” We held on to this statement each time things looked extremely bleak and we would see her in pain. For me it became a personal mantra. I would keep chanting to myself—my mom is going to conquer this, my mom is going to conquer this.
The treatment of cancer is not an easy one, say doctors. They warn you of several side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation. It looks like a hell hole, actually. Through the entire year during the treatment, what helped us tremendously were the three M’s: music, masti and meditation. There were many wonderful healing pieces of music that we would play for mom to ease her physical discomfort. She would soak in the tunes and feel quite relaxed. Another important element was that we never allowed the environment at home to become negative or sad. We watched movies, went out, laughed, danced and, very importantly, we kept away from anyone who would come and talk negatively or sympathise with us. We didn’t need sympathy. We didn’t need unnecessary tears or worry. So, we requested people to either visit mom happily or not visit at all. The last, and perhaps the most important aspect of dealing with cancer as a family, was meditation. Each day, for about half an hour dad, mom, Nidhi and I would place our hands on mom's body and visualise white healing light flooding her entire being.
The doctors had given her about a year to live. This was in 2005. Today, a decade later, I am excited to share that my mother (aged 64) can do yoga for an hour, jog two km if she pleases, laughs, dances, teaches children at our holistic growth centre and lives a beautiful and fulfilling life. If you see her, you probably wouldn’t even know she is a stage 4 cancer conqueror. There is so much more that I wish to share, but that, perhaps, is another story. For now, if you or anyone close to you is going through cancer, much beyond science, befriend spirituality. Use the tools mentioned above and have faith. Love, meditation and faith can create magic. It did for us, it can for you.
Award-winning author. Founder of Mumbai-based organisation, Wonder of Words