When I received my cancer diagnosis, I felt I'd been hauled into a horror movie in which I was playing a key role, but hadn't been given the script. I felt lost, mortal, frightened. The people and landmarks around me looked the same, but no one could understand me. People I had known all my … Continue reading Cancer is the Loneliest Place
Make them feel seen. It's an age-old, time tested way to bring comfort those who are suffering. When I was going through the cancer grinder, I directly experienced the healing power of feeling seen. And conversely, the distressing effect of not feeling seen. This post will unpack the meaning of these words and offer concrete … Continue reading How to Bring Comfort to Someone With Cancer
One thing I didn’t realize until I got cancer is how opaque the experience of cancer is from the outside. We live our lives assuming that what we see is all there is. So and so’s hair has grown back; they must have recovered. We believe we see the whole experience when, in reality, we … Continue reading Inside the Mind of a Cancer Patient
A year ago, I was undergoing cancer treatment. This month, I am celebrating my one-year survivorship. It is a big milestone on many levels. I underwent so much pain and so many sorrows. I am grateful for life, even though the hardships are not over. I enjoy the present moment a lot more than I … Continue reading One-Year Survivor: The Good, the Bad, the Hope
Last year, I got diagnosed with breast cancer. My life fell apart. I lost my health, my energy, my job, my enthusiasm, my sleep, my appetite. My brain got sluggish. I was lost. Lethargic. Uninspired. Then I started treatment. It was brutal. I shrank my sense of time to smaller units. I wasn't thinking about … Continue reading Why I Became a Patient Advocate
A few months ago, I underwent month-long daily radiation therapy for breast cancer. It was hard for my frail rail-thin body. The treatment left me physically, emotionally, and mentally depleted — like nothing I had experienced before. Several months after completion, I still suffer the side effects. (I know survivors who remain affected many years down the … Continue reading An Insider View of Radiation Therapy Through the Eyes of a Cancer Patient
Taking refuge in the forest / Amidst the tall redwoods / Majestic protectors / Of all things living. / Their cracked brown skin / Brings to mind my brown ancestors / Still alive among these trees / Centuries after centuries. / Their resilience exemplary / Their strength legendary / They’ve overcome severe hardships / With awe-inspiring ...
Dear Heart / You and I have a lot of catch up to do. / Half a life of taking you for granted / Of thinking you will always be there / Beating faithfully, through thick and thin. / You’ve been a loyal friend all my life / And yet I’ve never thanked you. / I had to get a life-threatening illness / To pay attention to you at last / To realize that ...
Many people are unaware of how difficult it is to answer social greetings when one is going through hardships. They ask "how are you" mechanically, without thinking. I too have done so in the past. My experience of cancer opened my eyes to the stress of social greetings. All the sudden, I became one of … Continue reading How to Respond to “How Are You?” When You Are Not Okay
The kick came for me in the form of breast cancer. Cancer has a way of showing up in your life, unannounced, and take up all the space in the house. It’s a visitor you can’t ignore. Rowdy. Overburdening. Demanding. Draining. It derails your routine, your plans, your work, your sleep, and your relationships. You … Continue reading When Life Kicks You: Let it Kick You Forward