As I wake up, Dad and I discuss about Mom’s discharge and things we need to ask the doctor. The usual routine of her Chemotherapy begins. It is the last day of her five day long Chemo sessions. As the session begins, I feel a little guilty of being tired of this place. Today, the same place that nearly frustrated me does not look so bad. The patient next to Mom’s bed has her mouth swollen. The tumor is in her lips and it is three times bigger than its normal size. The saliva drips out of her mouth all the time; that is the reason for her mouth being covered with towel most of the time. Her husband is by her side, nursing her. He is gentle as he wipes her mouth. I wonder if the husband has loved her as much all his life. Then there is the frail lady at the far end, the doctor has come to visit her. He asks her to walk in a line for him. She is feeble and she can’t walk straight. The doctor tells his son, this can result in fractures in her bones so he asks him to be careful and monitor her closely. As the doctor leaves, the lady talks to the sixty something lady by her bedside and tells her how the medicine has made her weak and she was supposed to be discharged a week ago but she’s still at the hospital. I notice they share a special bond. Their eyes speak; they tell each other “I know what you mean, I understand”. Then there is another couple, on the right of the frail lady. The husband is looking after his wife, helping her to get settled before the doctor visits her bed. He gently unties the scarf on her head; I can see her hair has completely fallen due to Chemotherapy. There are few remains of frizzy hair and it looks a little (forgive me for this) scary without the scarf. The husband tries to put together those remains of her hair and wrap the scarf around her head. It does not work the first time so he does it again. I look at his face as he wraps the scarf around her head for the second time. He has a warm kind smile on his lips and his eyes are filled with love as he gently presses the scarf to gather all the frizzy hair to form a neat knot at the back of head with the scarf. This is not an uncommon scene here at the hospital. As much as we see disease and sickly people we see and experience love, care, togetherness and healing. It is very painful at times to be at this place but I have also found profound peace and love at this same place. The mother son duo opposite to our bed is friendly. They are to be discharged today. They share some of their experiences at the hospital with us. As they take leave, the son touches my Mom’s feet as heleaves and that makes my Mom emotional. After this observation, I make peace with myself for being where I am. I feel proud and privileged to be with Mom at a time when she needs me the most. I try to settle my wandering eyes and open a book.
Category Archives: Cancer
The book doesn’t keep my mind off of things going around for long. I’m tired, I had a long day today and I lay down to sleep along with all the thoughts that cloud my mind. I think of the day and I’m tired of being in a hospital. I’m tired of seeing people in pain; I’m tired of this ambience. Just last week we met a father from Pokhara who had come here with a sick child. The child had an aggressive form of blood cancer. He had been in treatment since last year. His father is well determined to save his baby. There is another patient with the same type of blood cancer. She is also from Nepal. She is in her late 20s and has two children and a young husband. She comes to talk with my Mom sometimes and they both share thoughts on how this disease have changed their lives. Her two children are in Kathmandu and they have no idea what happened to their mother. She shares her story of how she came to know about her disease. She hopes to live but is well aware of her chances of living again. There is another middle aged couple living at the hospital since past few months. The husband in his 50s and has lung cancer. Both of their children are abroad. The wife is tired, worried and has a difficult time tending to her husband and conversing with doctors in hindi. Everywhere I look around, it is the same plot with different stories. Everyone is suffering, no one is spared. I feel like I’m living in a completely new world where nothing is certain and no one is free from pain. The scene is depressing but its the everyday of people who are here. It is cancer and it lives even outside of people suffering from this disease.
This hospital is filled with such heart wrenching stories.
I try to change the topic in my head and think about my life. I don’t know about God’s plan for me in life. I don’t know if there is a God or there are so called plans but I do not have fancy desires and wishes. I picture myself being happy in the kitchen as I make breakfast before I go to work. I like to live independently, own an apartment with a nice kitchen. I want to be working and earning enough to support my not so fancy lifestyle. I want to have a healthy social life. It would be nice to share that apartment with the person I love. I smile as I go into this realm of my imagination and at some point I fall asleep.
I am at the Kathmandu airport and I’m waiting to board the flight. After I land at the Delhi airport, I take an hour long taxi ride to the hospital. I feel good for being back to be with Mom. I enter a familiar place, I reach mom’s room and there she is resting in her bed. As I see her from a distance, I notice she is not her happy self anymore. The smile on my cheerful Mom is not the same. As the dye on her hair fades, I can see traces of her gray hair, she has lost weight and her cheerful nature is not visible anymore. I don’t know why but I was expecting to find my healthy mom, the way she had been before she got the disease. It has changed her a lot, both physically and mentally. Yet she is high in spirit, I hug her and she’s very happy to see me.
I settle down for a five day stay at the hospital. I look around. Some of the faces are familiar, the nurse is familiar, some of the patients who are here for chemotherapy, the helpers and the staff, they are all familiar. I settle in and I’m happy and at peace to be with mom. I look around. There are around seven beds in this room. There is a lady in her fifties, she is very thin for her age and built. She looks like she is just 35 Kg, her son is with her. In the next bed, there is another woman, she looks like she is in her 60s, and her attendant is talking to the thin lady. The thin lady asks her if she’s admitted in the hospital for chemotherapy, the attendant tells her that the lady in her 60s finished her chemo sessions but her life is not the same. Every once in a while there are some health problems and she has to get admitted often. They both lock their eyes for a while as if they’re still communicating and get back to their respective activities. There is a new patient admitted just next to my mom’s bed. As she enters the room in a wheel chair, her mouth is covered with a face towel. Her husband is by her side, her husband and the helper struggles to lay her down on the bed. She finally settles in. I take a glance at mom to check on her. The scene makes her sad and she turns on my side and closes her eyes attempting to sleep. Just opposite to my mom’s bed, there is a rather healthy looking Punjabi lady around the same age as my mom’s. She is accompanied by her son. The son is taking good care of her, asking her if she needs anything, and peeling a banana for her. Farthest from our side there is a little girl with her mom. The girl is young around 10 0r 11 years of age and she is restless. Her Mom is admitted. As my Mom tries to sleep, I open a book to re-read the last part of it. The writer talks about the war in Afghanistan and describes the injuries and wounds of his fellow inmates. As I read this interesting journey, I think of the pain they suffer and the pain in this particular hospital room. They are similar yet so different. This pain is uninvited, unwanted and much against the will and knowledge of the bearers. The pain in the war is anticipated, known and the bearer is prepared in some way to take the pain and suffering. The pain in the war is somewhat planned and the consequences are obvious where as the source of pain in the hospital is unknown and the patients ponder upon their fate and destiny as they struggle for their lives. Besides the pain there is one more thing common in the warriors and the patients. They both fight with honor. The warriors fight with honor for their own cause expecting something in return at the end but the patients fight with honor with no expectations for a cause that is yet unknown to them and for a cause that might never be known to them. The pain is similar but the source of pain is different, very different. I travel to remote mountains of Afghanistan along with the writer. I forget for a moment that I’m in a hospital. The dialogues and the conversations in the book intrigue me.
P.S You can catch the prequel to this post at At the wedding, Returning to an empty nest.
The wedding is over, I say the goodbyes and I return home. Someone drops me home and I know there’s going to be no one at home. It is around 6pm, it is winter and it’s a little dark outside. As I walk in, there is no electricity because of load shedding. I go to the puja room and I sit there for a while. It’s the room where mom medicates everyday and it is calm and soothing in here. I tell myself, everything is going to be fine, I smile and I go upstairs. There is no electricity but there is light in one of the rooms. I sit there and read a book. As I read the book, my mind wanders. Before we left for Delhi, we all were so happy. I was finally back from my 2 years of graduate studies. Mom was happiest to have her kid back in the house. Everyday we cooked different kinds of food and invited guests over. Life looked so normal. Soon it was Dashain and Bua was excited about the elaborate goat meat menu we would be relishing. Mom had started complaining about her recurrent stomach pain that would not go away. We had taken her to a hospital in Kathamandu and we were waiting for some tests to be done which was postponed for a week because of Dashain. We all had no clue of the upcoming storm. I was happy thinking about the good things that were coming my way. My life had been just the way I wanted it to be. I had a good job offer in hand, I was relaxed, I was home and I felt like my life was finally taking off the way I wanted it to. I guess this feeling was what we call the silence before the storm. I knew this experience would take way the “nothing can go wrong” philosophy out of my mind. I will always know our world is not perfect and that anything can happen we just have to learn how to deal with the situation.
I am glad that I’m leaving for Delhi tomorrow to be with my parents. Someone drops me at the airport and I can’t wait to board the flight, take a taxi, go straight to the hospital and hug Mom. She must be eagerly waiting for me. Although she never mentioned over the phone I’m sure she must’ve missed me.
P.S This post is the continuation of At the wedding.
The music is loud and we are dancing to the same song “Sheila ki jawani” for the third time in a row. The song ends with a roar of laughter and we rest for a while to sip a drink. As we take a sip, another bollywood shaadi number rolls and we’re on the floor. We ask M for a solo and she dances sexy and awesome, she’s got the moves and we’re all awed by her. As the laughter roars again, my mind travels miles away to Delhi, I think of mom I take a deep breath and head out of the room. I miss Mom and I’m scared for having so much fun and feeling what I am feeling. I panic, I think of the pain and I panic. I feel an urge to talk to Mom, I’m scared. As I punch her number, tears trickle down my cheeks and I’m scared for being so happy because I know life is a cycle of happiness and sadness and I’m scared to feel free and feel light thinking the next feeling might be something I felt when we found out Mom’s got cancer, a severe type and the diagnosis is not so good. I get scared and I panic and tears roll down my cheeks. Mom picks up the phone and says “hello”. I’m relieved. We talk about how her day was and I inquire if everything’s going on fine. She tells me about her daily activities, asks me to convey my regards to the bride to be. After that she tells me not to worry about her and have a lot of fun at the party and warns me not to drink a lot of wine and beer. I try not to talk to her for long, fearing she might sense my fear. I say goodbye and promise to call her the next day. I walk back in the room; the ambience is intoxicatingly fun and light. They are still dancing to another silly bollywood number, I join in but the energy is not as high and I’m relaxed to be tensed. My fear subsides but its there and I’m relaxed that the fear is there for as long as it is there, the next feeling is going to be a good one and not a worst one, and I’m a bit relieved to believe so.
I was in Delhi since last few months with Mom to get her the treatment she needed. I came to Kathmandu for few days to attend my best friend’s wedding. Mom and Dad wanted me to attend it and take a break from the humdrum that’s been going on for months.
P.S This is post is out of my diary 2 years back. At that time Mom had been diagnosed with Cancer and I was in Delhi with her for her treatment. It will be a short 5-day series with short posts straight from my personal diary. The posts will be devoid of pictures but hope you guys will read through it regardless.
Few months back I had posted about Cameron and Heather’s cancer survival story titled, A hard lesson learned in a battle with cancer. I received an email from Cameron that they have been trying to raise awareness regarding Mesothelioma(a kind of cancer that Heather suffered from). They have participated in a short video about her cancer experience. You can follow the link to look at the video:http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather
Please watch and share the video to support Heather and Cameron on their quest to spread awareness regarding Mesothelioma. Thank you.
Last month I got the most generous request from my fellow reader Cameron. He requested to publish the story of his and his wife’s battle with cancer. It made me feel humble and thankful for this opportunity to share the story of a successful battle against cancer in my blog. I hope this story will inspire many people who are battling with cancer to never give up. Happy reading and a big thanks to Cameron for wanting to share his story in my blog :).
My wife Heather’s battle against cancer began only 3 months after our first child, Lily, was born. We found ourselves sitting in a doctor’s office, hearing a diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma. It was then that I knew I was in a battle with her. I felt sad and bewildered. Our daughter had just been born and it should have been the happiest time of our lives. Instead we were faced with the news that we could get treatment for her cancer at a regional hospital, a local hospital, or doctor in Boston that specialized in Heather’s form of cancer. I felt that the Boston treatment option was our best bet for success. “Get us to Boston,” is what I said while my wife sat stunned and shocked. It was the first of many impossible decisions that we’d be forced to make together in the coming months.
The next few months were chaos for our little family. Heather had to quit her job, and that left me working part time, taking care of our infant daughter, and coping with huge bills coming each day. There were times in those first few months when I found myself crying alone. I couldn’t go to Heather with those troubles because she had the biggest fight of her life on her hands. I dealt with it by myself, trying to do everything at once while working to support us. I loved taking care of my wife but it left little time for everything else. I worried I would be left raising a child on my own, without my wife beside me.
Financial problems piled up and I was finally forced to accept help from our family. It was at that moment that I realized the first of many hard lessons we were to learn: You HAVE to accept help where you can get it when you’re fighting cancer. There is no room for pride in a cancer fight, and when I finally learned this a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. Even the smallest offer of help can remind you that you are not alone in this fight after all.
Heather fought bravely through her mesothelioma treatments and against all odds, she beat mesothelioma. She is now cancer free, our daughter knows her mother and will know her while she’s growing up.
Among the most important lessons I learned was that people can get through anything if they believe in themselves and each other, and they can become better people for it. We must fight on no matter how grim the prognosis is. In the end, we can win, and that’s what my wife and I proved and learned. We hope that by sharing our story of hope here, we can help inspire others currently battling through their own cancer stories. Never give up hope, and never stop fighting for the ones you love.
I hope this story inspires us all. Lets appreciate life a little more and try to live every moment of it as no one knows what tomorrow might bring. Happy living :). Good luck to Heather, Cameron and Lily for their long life together. Kindly follow through the link to learn more about the disease.