To a Breast Cancer Survivor

জোহরা ফেরদৌসী's picture
Submitted by Zohra Ferdousy on Sat, 25/05/2013 - 1:18am

Cancer is a short C-word with a heavy, cold and lonely feeling. Cancer survivors live with that feeling every day of their life.

Life had its twists and turns, yet you had a life before cancer. At least, you were allowed to have dreams about life. Cancer puts a sudden end to those dreams. Cancer turns you from a “woman” to a “survivor”.

The first visit to the doctor, the first chilling possibility of having cancer, the first frantic search on the internet, the first cry over phone, the first sleepless night filled with prayer to God not to have it- all goes in vain. X-ray, ultrasound, mammogram, fine needle biopsy, complete biopsy, injecting nuclear medicine on arms, MRI, cold touch of the hospital bed, quiet-long- lonely moments in the waiting room…Finally at the doctor’s office…door shutting off behind the doctor…long silent moments…images on the wall…doctor explains the location, grade, degree of the cancer…genetics, treatment options, surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, side effects, survival rate…As if you are sitting in a university class room and the doctor is a professor…. only he does not realize your mind is not in the room anymore. Your dreams are shattered; your hopes are broken as you just have turned from a daughter/sister/wife/mother/friend into a “statistics”. You are not allowed to dream for a life, to hope to see your kids grow up, to hope to be at their graduations, their weddings. You should not hope to pursue your career or to grow old with the person you love. You are being told, “No more planning for life like a normal person….Take one day at a time….Do not plan to have more kids…Be happy just to be alive….” After all, you become a “survivor” after cancer, if you are alive!

Doctors know a lot about cancer, yet, they do not know the Cure, another short and simple C-word.

Time passes go through treatment…surgery after surgery…radiation after radiation…chemotherapy after chemotherapy… Herceptin after Herception…Temoxifin…lost organs…lost hair …lost eye-brows…osteoporosis…menopause…depression…mood swing…anxiety about cancer coming back…inescapable fear about what will happen to your children…like they say, “Cancer never comes alone.”

At one point, people around you become fatigued.

“Why do I have to live with cancer?” the most appalling question may come to you in the most vulnerable time of your life.

You will be surprised by your own words, “No, you don’t have to…,” because, “cancer has got my body, certainly, not my spirit.”

Even after that you keep on going. Every day, you see your face in the mirror…pale and aged….your body aches…your joints hurt…you breakdown into tears at the bus stop as you could not run and catch the bus like before…you struggle reading your kids’ homework with your worsened eyesight…your chemo-brain often fails you…thanks to the treatment…like they say, “Sometimes, treatment is severe than the disease itself.”

You hear comments like: “Cancer? Anyone can die from car accident anytime. What’s the difference?”

Every single pain in your body makes you wonder if it is the next round of cancer. Every single doctor’s appointment scares you. Every single phone call after any diagnostic test reminds you that very-first-cold call from your doctor. Above all, you struggle every single day of your life fearing what will happen to your children if you have to go tomorrow. Cancer has broken your life into two pieces: before and after.

Yet, you keep on going. You go back to work, you take care of kids, you go to the doctors’ appointments alone, you look forward to make best out of your journey. Most of all, you pick up the pieces of you after the biggest storm in your life- cancer.

The person, who dies in a car accident, does not know she or he is dying in few moments. That person keeps dreaming about life, planning about the next vacation, the next career move, the next volunteering project, the next baby to hold, the next book to read, the next family dinner to make….You do not have that luxury in your life. You already have received the first letter. You have got to do a lot before you receive the final letter. How can you waste time?

So, don’t let anyone, anything get control of your spirit. After all, you must agree that cancer made you aware of your inner strength, the one you might have been not mindful of otherwise!

Dear Readers,

Most of the time people associate cancer with hair loss due to chemotherapy. The inner journey with cancer- living every day with that heavy and cold feeling- only the cancer survivors know. As cancer is becoming increasingly prevalent among young people, it is important that we try to know more about cancer, treatment, side-effects, and life after cancer. Being cognizant about cancer is the first step to support the cancer patients, and survivors.


Ema's picture

One of my deepest fears ever, yet i am not aware enough. মন খারাপ

For the writing চলুক চলুক


জোহরা ফেরদৌসী's picture

Thank you Ema for reading. Take care.

জয় হোক মানবতার ।। জয় হোক জাগ্রত জনতার

অতিথি লেখক's picture

It is really horrible to bear cancer in the body. Only survivors know better about it. The family member should come forward to share everyday dealings. This writing remembering me about a movie watched before about a woman who have cancer and knows will die soon. That was very touching movie I have ever seen.

জোহরা ফেরদৌসী's picture

Thank you for your kind comment.

Cancer has become prevalent among young people over time. Due to modern medical treatment people are surviving. Yet, they never get back the life they had before cancer. The physical changes due to cancer treatment are easily visible….the emotional journey often is hidden.

জয় হোক মানবতার ।। জয় হোক জাগ্রত জনতার

Tariq's picture

I drive to NY every weekend to see my brother who is now going thru chemotherapy and radiotherapy after an oral surgery. I see a different person with a different look now. But I don't see how he feels deep inside.

জোহরা ফেরদৌসী's picture

But I don't see how he feels deep inside.

Tariq, its not easy to see how a cancer patient or survivor feels inside. You can simply sit with him, talk and listen...that way he will know you care for him...that caring touch from your heart will go a long way...

I wish a quick recovery of your brother. May God grant him a cure, amen.

জয় হোক মানবতার ।। জয় হোক জাগ্রত জনতার

Afroza's picture

I lost my mother to breast cancer 6 years ago. After her cancer came back approximately 3 years after the initial round of surgery, chemo and radio therapy, me along with two other family members knew it was terminal. Being treated in Bangladesh and India, my mother was never made aware of the nature of the returned cancer. She looked forward to getting better and living a normal life again. She thought she could kick this cancer once again. We became even closer during the one yet she battled and she told me about things she would do once she got better. Seeing her suffer after every chemo cycle is something that haunts me even today.
While I cannot completely understand what you went through I have some idea about what close family members go through. You are not alone in fearing what comes next. Your loved ones fear for you too.
Hope you are doing well now and continue a long, prosperous and fulfilled life হাসি

জোহরা ফেরদৌসী's picture

May your mother rest in eternal peace, amen.

Being treated in Bangladesh and India, my mother was never made aware of the nature of the returned cancer. She looked forward to getting better and living a normal life again. She thought she could kick

The reality of living in a western country is the doctor tells everything to the patient.

Seeing her suffer after every chemo cycle is something that haunts me even today.

You will always remember those days. I hope that experience has made you aware about the inner journey with cancer.

Hope you are doing well now and continue a long, prosperous and fulfilled life

Thank you, Afroza. I can say, cancer is a gift in my life. After all the ordeals, it has taught me so much and gave me so much that I actually gained from it.

জয় হোক মানবতার ।। জয় হোক জাগ্রত জনতার

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