Suma, Having cancer changed my outlook on life.

My name is Suma; I’m a Nurse Specialist. I always cared for patients with Lung cancer who are primarily diagnosed in advanced stages and hence need palliative care, thinking that I can ease their pains and sorrows – I can be their shield against cancer, against a villain who I have never expected to face myself, but I was wrong; July 2016 was the time for me to be bold and fight against it, and at that time, I found my patients to be my strong, protective shield throughout my journey. I had persistent fatigue, so I decided to see a physician; then, I had blood tests and a mammogram, which showed that I might lump in my breast, so a biopsy was obtained. This biopsy conveyed a diagnosis that I had never imagined. It translated my fatigue into something beyond my imagination. I was told that I have Stage 1 Breast Cancer.

Denial and rejection were all that I was feeling initially; I was not able to grasp the fact that I had cancer. I went home that day with a heavy heart, with serious steps, carrying a worrying diagnosis, which should have been the end of my story. I went home where I was sure I would feel secure; I went home to see my children and to listen to their joyful stories; I went home to be embraced by my family as my heart was filled with worry, and they’re the only ones who can enlighten it. Then came the question: should I inform my family yet? Will they be able to grasp it? I believed in them and knew they would support me with every step I took.

I informed my husband; he broke into tears. He cared for me a lot and was upset about my well-being. As time passed, he accepted it, and so did I. We both were ready to fight it together. He was always strong and by my side when I needed him. He comforted me and was there for me throughout the treatment. I had a one-year treatment phase, which included surgical treatment followed by chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy. I was tired and physically drained but I knew I was strong enough to handle it. I did things I enjoyed during my treatment cycle; for example, I’m a workaholic; thus, working although I’m sick took away all the sickness which I was experiencing as I felt happy doing my assigned duties. I showed this physically-draining disease that I’d appreciate life more as much as it drains me. I decided not to take sick leave; I went to work and helped my patients as I now know what they go through when they are sick. Cancer has enlightened my perspective regarding the disease and made me a better carer for my patients. Was I losing hair? Being fatigued? Having mood swings? This all vanished when I realized I was strong enough to win this battle. I gained strength through my family’s support, my patient’s well-being, and acceptance of my illness. In addition, my spiritual habits and strong relationship with god made me stronger and wiser, as I started to look at this condition as any other condition that will pass, making me mentally and physically stronger.

Cancer throws a person into a deep end, thinking that they entered a tunnel with no opening on the other side, but this is not the case; one should believe that they have the tools to create a space for themselves, leading to their well-being and acceptance. For that to happen, one must establish a positive attitude, supportive group, hope, and faith. Do things that make you happy, support others, and give yourself time to heal. Let it be; you can fight it.



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