Lessons For Life: A Walk With A Cancer Survivor

Note by Dr Suraj Manjunath : This is a guest post by Haripriya Suraj. Haripriya is a wellness practitioner, author, and early childhood educator. As my better half, she has been my source of support and inspiration through our years together. In this post, she shares insights from a walk with a friend who is a cancer survivor.

As we walked past magnificent trees and flowering bushes, we spotted a large patch of lush green grass. My friend Meghana (name changed) said,

“Can we sit here for a while?”

“Sure,” I said.

Meghana had completed her treatment successfully for a sarcoma (a type of cancer) just a few months back.

We had met for an early morning walk at Lalbagh (an iconic botanical garden in Bangalore) and planned to have breakfast together afterward at MTR, a popular South Indian restaurant close by.

Meghana had many stories to tell from the days of her diagnosis and treatment and had been pouring her heart out from the time we met.

We sat down, took off our shoes, and placed our feet on the grass.

I noticed Meghana closed her eyes and I closed mine too.

Lalbagh was so peaceful yet full of life – trees, flowers, birds, squirrels, butterflies, insects, and more co-existed in this beautiful space. We sat together in silence for a few minutes, after which Meghana opened her eyes and began to talk again.

“You know, it feels so wonderful to just feel my own feet,” she said.

“Absolutely,” I said, loving the feeling of the grass beneath my feet too.

She picked up a flower lying by her side and smelt it.

“It smells so sweet!” she said and handed it to me, “Here, smell it.”

It had a heavenly scent for sure!

Next, she picked up a giant red leaf that had dropped down from a tree and held it against her cheek.

“You seem to have become a nature lover!” I said with a smile.

“Yes!” she said, “I feel like I am living a whole new life and want to make the most of each moment. The grass looks greener and the flowers smell sweeter. My morning tea has never tasted so delicious. I feel like my sense organs have been rewired or something! Everything in my world looks, tastes, smells, and feels so rich.”

“How beautiful!” I said.

“If I had come to this park before being diagnosed with cancer, I am certain I would have been glued to my phone!” she said, and we laughed out loud together.

“But now, I am beginning to notice things that I may never have noticed before,” she went on, “And it feels like the right thing to do.”

“True that,” I said.

“I even enjoy going to work now. Do you remember how much I complained about my workplace before?” she asked.

“Oh yes! I do,” I said.

“It feels so good to lead a normal life again,” she went on.

She was quiet for a while and was gazing into the distance. Suddenly, she said-

“I feel like I have been a doer and giver all my life. I found it hard to sit still even for a moment and do nothing. This journey has taught me to slow down, to just ‘be’ at times, and to not only give but receive too – from the people in my life and from life itself.”

“That sounds wonderful!” I said, moved by her revelation.

We spent a few more minutes chatting and then got up to go for breakfast.

“We should do this more often!” I said.

“Yes, let’s!” said Meghana, sounding enthusiastic.

I am a nature lover too and I do make it a point to notice small details and enjoy what life has to offer.

However, spending time with Meghana made me appreciate the value offered by the smallest things and moments each one of us is blessed with. We tend to take these for granted until they are taken away from us.

I’m so happy Meghana found purpose during trying times and has started writing a whole new chapter in the story of her life!

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