Disclaimer: Everything in this blog is from a very personal perspective. It may not apply to all cancer victims, fighters, or survivors. This blog serves multiple purposes. It can help people understand how a person could cope with such a disease. It can help by-standards understand how to approach such a sensitive topic, or how to approach cancer victims. It might even help understand what could a cancer victim possibly go through mentally and physically.
Being diagnosed with a burdensome disease like cancer makes one feel mentally and physically shackled. As an MBA graduate in their 20’s who is ready to hustle in the career space, this life milestone derails all such plans. A cancer fighter is often shackled physically through a strict treatment regime and mentally through the pre-conceived notions that the tag ‘cancer’ carries. The first thought that enters any cancer victim’s mind; synonymous with cancer is death.
But as part of a cancer victim’s support system, it’s really vital to understand that cancer does not automatically equal death. Cancer has indeed claimed many lives, but it does not claim all lives. Many proud and strong survivors go on about their ordinary life treating cancer as just another obstacle or glitch.
But I found peace in knowing like every other disease, cancer is no different. People often get intimidated by the word chemotherapy, but chemotherapy is basically just chemical-based therapy. We all take chemicals when we have a headache or fever. So in a way, we all help ourselves at times to chemotherapy. The difference lies in the strength of the medication or drugs; that is why chemotherapy seems intimidating. For a self-procreating disease like cancer, strong medication or chemicals are required to fight the disease.
Cancer is one of many diseases and disorders. Unlike the common cold, cancer patients are often defined by the disease. Just like how the common cold, dengue, malaria, do not represent a person, neither does cancer. Sure, it is a cumbersome and burdensome disease, but behind the disease is a human being, and after the disease, that human being still exists; so, don’t let cancer affect how the cancer victim is treated. Instead, understand the victim’s psyche and respond accordingly.
It’s pivotal to understand the cancer victim’s mindset and respond to that. Don’t approach cancer victims with a doomsday scenario in mind; don’t always expect the worst. Some victims (such as myself) try to remain jovial and establish a semblance of normalcy in their lives. It’s hard to live a normal lifestyle while being isolated and away from people. Between hospital visits, medical tests, and chemotherapy, going back to being who you were is not easy.
Being diagnosed with cancer shackles one to their books or devices. The only way to live life sometimes is through scrolling through social media or binging on OTT. It involves a sense of FOMO, so as part of the support system, try to envoke normalcy through conversations. Ask cancer victims how they feel but don’t stop at that. Communicate whatever you like; free up your mind cause the cancer victim still holds the same position in your life as they did previously.
Many find it awkward or uncomfortable to approach a cancer patient out of hesitancy on what to say. But why should the disease stop you from approaching a human being who has been a part of your life? This is when they need their support system to communicate; this is the only level of normalcy they have control on. Cancer can happen to anyone, but it can’t define any human being.
It might be a mother, a father, a daughter, a sister, a brother, a friend, a family member, a classmate, a colleague, or even a lover. Why should their position in your life be defined by a disease? Shouldn’t they be defined by the impact they have on your life? Advice: Re-learn to gossip, laugh, and play once again. Crack out a board game or reminisce on those good old days. They say laughter is the best medicine; it’s much-needed while juggling multiple tests, reports, and chemotherapy itself.