Two long years later, my hair began to grow back and I started to recognise the person I saw in the mirror. I was starting to look more “normal”, I was starting to look like my old self. But I did not feel like the old me.
I had lost a part of my body and because of this, I was unable to lead exactly the same life. Certain activities would forever be out of reach. After having my entire right breast muscle removed, I was unable to lift anything heavy or even straighten my arm above my head. Using chopsticks was almost impossible. Lifting a fork was more challenging than it should be. My new life was alien to me and as a result, I felt lonely.
No one truly understood the pain I felt, although they really did try. This made me feel even more alienated because they were normal and I was not. People often asked what my plans were, what my next steps would be, what I wanted to do with my life. I had absolutely no clue. I was stuck in a state of limbo. Depression was my new foe.
I knew I had to do something. I was fortunate enough to attend a course offered by a local charity and cancer hospital. The course was called ‘Moving Forward’ and for me, it was just that. I met fellow survivors and learned that most people (around 80% or more) who face cancer are affected mentally once the treatment is over.
I was no longer alone. I had found my path to healing my mind, heart, and spirit. I was supported and understood in a way I never was before by people around me and also by myself.
It became more important than ever before for me to offer others that support. I wanted my experience to be both educational and a ray of hope. And I wanted to make sure that at least a few people would feel less alone than I did.
I realised that my book was more than just a therapy tool. Through my experience share, I had the opportunity to do something positive – to make an impact. The raw, honest scribbles I had collected during my treatment and recovery became the foundation for my book, Cancer, Curry & Me, which will be released on Amazon at the end of October 2020.
It is important to understand the changes around us, and inside of us. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and strength to get out of a chronic condition like cancer, both mentally and physically. When you are in the thick of it, it is too easy to get lost and not be able to find the ‘support’ you need. While the people around you may think you are coping (because that is what they see from the outside) you might still be breaking down inside. I know I was.
This year, my hair has grown longer and I look a lot like my old self. I have learned to remember and appreciate how each passing year has brought me a tremendous amount of new energy, opportunities, and greater things in life. It’s this hope that I want to share with others.
Given the current global situation, it is only too easy for us to fall back into the darkness. The instability around us is a reminder of the difficulties we faced in the past and it threatens to take us back to that scary physical and emotional state.
This October, it is not only time to support various charities, or wear a pink ribbon, but it is also a time to eradicate that fear of cancer. Instead, it’s time to develop a better understanding and support those who want to learn more.
Now is the time to appreciate those who have had cancer, to think of them, and to celebrate their journey. It is time to live pink.