My travel, for the most part of the last two and a half years has been because of cancer. Either for it or from it. I globe trotted to London for almost a year for treatment, but also domestically to Delhi, Hyderabad, across Bangalore and other cities. There were leisure trips too, but now I was finally travelling for fun, love and life.
For my best friend’s wedding.
When I was announced as the Best Man, I was bestowed the responsibility of planning his bachelor party and given that it was an Indian wedding, the dance performances. He lives in the UK, so I coordinated with his friends in Bangalore, Birmingham and family in Kolkata for the wedding details. I thankfully had a year to plan all this and honestly, I needed the time. With my erratic health and susceptibility to anxiety, I could do things at a calm pace.
The biggest challenge for me was to feel well enough to enjoy the celebrations. This wasn’t easy. While 2016 began splendidly with good health, new job and things going in the right direction, I had a mastectomy surgery, increase in brain lesions resulting in radiation and a line of treatments from June till September that didn’t suit me and sapped me of all energy. I was on bed most of the time and had to quit work too. The next treatment that was recommended wasn’t going to help me either. I would lose my hair, my immunity, be unable to eat out and pretty much be confined to the bed.
That’s when I decided that the type of treatment I receive should not be a hindrance to the kind of life I want for myself. After all, cancer shouldn’t be controlling me; it is only a small part of who I am and not what my life should revolve around.
Thus, began my war against the treatment. I was clear that I will attend my best friend’s wedding looking normal, with hair, strength and the ability to do all things others can.
And I did. I also lost my desired amount of weight so I felt confident and great!
We went to Goa for four days and I took part in all the water sports, ate in shacks and even had some drinks. Para sailing, banana boat, kayaking, snorkeling, dolphin sighting and then swimming in the middle of the sea surrounded with nothing but water. Enveloped with friends, sun and a festive atmosphere. What more could I have asked for?
The wedding was loads of fun and I could be a part of all the functions. The DJ nights for dancing on Bollywood and Punjabi songs, mehandi function, next day engagement, then baraat and reception. Everything was a highlight. Yes, I did get tired faster than others and needed to sleep longer, but only marginally. I don’t think that anybody could tell that I am battling cancer and that is very important to me.
Before the functions, I had nightmares that my wig would go flying while I am dancing or that I would get tired and faint in front of everybody, but thankfully none of that happened.
This success would not have been possible without mom. She understood the importance of me attending the wedding as Sonia and not a shadow of myself and stood by my decision of not letting cancer dictate my life terms. It meant her having to fight the doctor, make family and well-wishers understand my rationale, and that’s not easy. It’s not easy to take a break from treatment or refuse treatment while battling cancer, but we braved that.
From the day my cancer was diagnosed, mom has been my biggest support. From taking my temper, tantrums, me crying to eat non-vegetarian food, refusing to get chemo because I am not in the mood, having food cravings and ordering biryani from local joints, all without a complain. She also manages the house, her business and various jobs, liaises with the numerous doctors I am connected with, identifies and understands my often-changing treatments, raises funds for my medication all alone without batting an eye.
All I am expected to do is turn up, take treatment and stay strong. Everything else is handed to me on a silver platter. I don’t believe much in religion and my spirituality is shaky. But I believe the universe gives you what you want and she is my universe. My fairy, my angel, my God.
She has let me keep a puppy though I am unable to care much for him myself [my brother is the primary carer] because she knows how much I love animals.
Because in these 28 years, there isn’t a single wish I have made that my mother hasn’t made come true.
Our tradition of morning tea and coffee, and eggs together at night are precious to me. We go for all movies and food outings together. She is my soul; my gossip partner and I am nothing without my mom. We always say to each other that it is dangerous to love someone so much. But there are very few people on a bad day who can motivate me to keep fighting cancer. She is the first of the top five people in my life, all others come later.
So, as I end 2016 with a bang, now looking for the next thing to obsess over, I want to dedicate my blog and life to you mom. It wouldn’t have been possible without you.
I don’t know what 2017 has in store, but with mom by my side, I can continue fighting cancer with the same resilience as day 1.