Note by Dr Suraj Manjunath: This is a guest post by Rosemary Issac, an author, editor, and mentor to professional writers. In this article, she shares an inspiring account of her experience overcoming cancer.
As a cancer patient, my experience of the difficult battle with the ailment and the uncertain path to recovery allows me to empathize closely with the despair and hope of my fellow sufferers. I feel a need to help them as so many have helped me. What I would like to tell others in similar situations as mine is, to take unhesitatingly, without feelings of anxiety or guilt, every proffered route to healing, including not only medical expertise, but also the empowering kindness of family and friends. Do not be discouraged by daunting treatment processes and the financial expenditure that can add to the feeling of being a burden.
To caregivers I would say, thank you! Just being there, steady and reassuring, is everything. Though it’s easier said than done, being brave – helped by steadfast faith, calming therapeutic practices, and the wisdom and skill that mankind has attained – makes all the difference.
On the 12th of December 2019, I underwent a colonoscopy and was diagnosed with Stage Three colorectal cancer. Surgery was done immediately, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. These treatments, directed by my highly competent and dedicated surgical oncologists, Drs. Suraj Manjunath and Vivekanandan, were effective, so that now by the grace of the Almighty, I am declared normal.
The period since the discovery of the ailment till the end of treatment being packed with procedures or spent in a state of drowsiness, I was not much prone to ponder on my fate. Gradually, however, fears and doubts began to creep in. Forced to confront the terrors of the unknown, I felt lost at first. At the same time, I realized that despite the huge advancements in knowledge, vast mysteries remained such as who or what decides the precise time of initiation of the processes of birth and death – they could not be totally random phenomena. This consciousness asserted for me the presence of a higher power. In a strange way, I was comforted by my newly discovered sense of an unfathomable purpose.
At a more prosaic level, the pragmatic attitude of most people around me was refreshing and invigorating. My post-surgery roommate was a young lady with a rare condition, facing the possibility of amputation of her leg. From her and her patient mother who was in attendance, I learned the value of the practical, common-sense approach. I think these are people of true courage.
The course of my therapy and convalescence coincided with the Covid pandemic. So, the enforced confinement that was such a trial to everyone else perfectly suited me. I could not have visitors or go out in any case because of my immunocompromised state and could enjoy the restfulness and comfort of home undisturbed. During the chemotherapy, though, just before the lockdowns, I was visited at the hospital by two ladies from the Indian Cancer Society, Bengaluru. One of them happened to be the wife of the Managing Director of the e-publishing firm in which I used to work. The compassionate lady could not hide her dismay at seeing me there, but quickly recovered and was then very encouraging. The Indian Cancer Society for which she does honorary service is a nonprofit organization that educates people about cancer and offers emotional support. Such commendable reaching out gives patients and their families invaluable assistance.
In the face of the possibility of recurrence of malignancy, as the song goes, “I get by with a little help from my friends”…and my dear ones, and my good physicians, and the wisdom of our religions and philosophy ….On my desk is an image of an angel with the caption, “Where there is hope there is always an angel nearby.” What recharge optimism gives!