Fighting Cancer with a shoulder shrug…

CANCER!

Even if I wrote this word in a point size barely readable and without the exclamation mark, it would still scare us the same way isn’t it?

There are millions who have fought this battle and millions who are fighting it right now.

So why a sudden interest in this topic?

Well, for reasons good or bad, this is not just a topic for me. It’s something that has been in my life for past many years now and I have been meeting cancer through many of my family members.

Everyone fights for their life… whatever may be the reason, they will try. But what’s special about some is the attitude they carry. I know a few incredible people who have fought back and HOW!

I was very young, I think a year old when it creeped into my aunt’s body and made a home in there. But my aunt, Sangeeta Vaze, was not in favour of welcoming anyone uninvited so it had to leave…and for good.  That was my first encounter with the ugly cells. But I was unaware of this till I was 10. One afternoon I was scanning through the books kept in my parents bedroom and as a ten year old would do, was searching for the thinnest book with an easy and understandable topic. Found a book, though not the thinnest, but with an interesting cover. It was white and had a big picture of a crab on it. I was too young to even know that the crab was symbolic of cancer. The title was in Marathi and so was the entire book but something kept me hooked on to it. My mom always wanted us kids to know our mother tongue – Marathi and so I had just started reading a few story books in the language. I thought reading this book would improve my language skills so I grabbed it and took it to my room.

Again, I was just 10 so the inquisitive side of me always won over the patient side. I randomly jumped from page to page to see if there were any interesting pictures but all I saw were pictures of some unknown people, that too in black in white. Boring! I thought and was about to keep it away when the last page opened and I saw my aunt’s picture there… Finally a familiar face! That made me happy, got my attention and I tried to read what was written next to it.

It was a citation for my aunt stating that she is honoured and is being given an award for writing this book. The award was given by  Mr. J.R.D Tata on behalf of the TATA Cancer Foundation. Tata was a name I was well aware of even at that age and I knew it meant something really big if you received an award from them.

I was very happy to notice it and felt a sense a pride that my aunt was an award winner and moreover… Im reading her book! Little did I know that it was about to change my outlook towards life…

The title of the book was – Majhi Cancer Yatra, I translated every word and came up with – My cancer journey. (Carries a much deeper meaning but as a kid, that’s how I read it)

I started reading it sentence by sentence, slowly, trying to translate the words and make sense out of it. It was a mix of emotions – joy, sorrow, struggle, belief, kindness, gratitude, fear and lots and lots of prayers…

It had stories of people fighting the cells… some made it, some did not. Some stories that made me cry, some that put a smile on my face. Some heroic deeds and some godly actions. My aunt experienced it all. I could not understand each and every word and it was very hard for me to understand the jargons cos of the new language but what I learnt was that love, courage, belief and positive attitude are universal and readable to all. Language does not matter. My aunt not only fought the battle but also inspired many others.

My mom was taken aback to see that book in my hand and now I can understand why…

If you ever get a chance, do read the book.

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Have you ever met a 55 year old die hard fan of Shahrukh Khan?? A woman who watches emotional TV soups but laughs at you for crying while you give a hug?? A lady who can keep your secrets from your mom despite of being her best friend?? Someone you know who you can run to when you are in an emotional crisis?? No??

Let me introduce you to my dearest, loveliest foster mom – Mrs. Aruna Khot!

She can fight with the world for Shahrukh! But what’s even more happening is the fact that she fought cancer with twice as much zest! I dont know what she eats in the morning that keeps her pepped up all day…

It was only a year back when I got the news that the ugly cells have targeted this aunt of mine this time. A dead nervous, helpless and a shaken-up me, tried to pull herself together to make a call. A call to my best friend whose mom was diagnosed with cancer. I did. All prepared to console her and stabilise the situation. But as it had to happen, I broke down. I mean what do yo expect? It was my best friend and her mom – my foster mom! I did not handle it well, but they did. My friend consoled me and said that everything would be ok. She is going to be fine and I need not worry. Wait! I should be the one saying all this right?? Well, thats how you differentiate the strong from the weak! (For a minute I really felt like a fool!)

It was aunty who actually made everything look like cough and cold. Throughout her treatment, she was solid as a rock keeping everyone and everything stable.

I did not get a chance to speak to her much cos I was in a different city but whenever I did, her kind and positive words made all my tensions go away…

Her positive outlook amazes me. If you are not friends with her on Facebook I suggest you be! Her messages can lighten up your mood, make a dull day bright and make difficult tasks really easy! Her daughter, my best friend Priyanka and her son, my lil brother took care of her with so much love and affection that the uninvited guests had no room left for themselves and had to eventually leave.

After she recovered, I met her on Diwali and what a fantastic look she had… short hair (some call it bob cut)…a chic kurti and a bright smile on her face! And when I complemented her, the come back was -” I think all I need is a leather jacket, boots, a Harley Davidson and Im good to go!” 🙂

Aruna aunty is a super woman and I know that with a brave heart like hers, loving kids like Priyanka and Akshat and a never -say -never attitude, those ugly cells can never harm her. She loves her life and lives it king size…Shahrukh might be her hero but she is one rocking superstar in my life!

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Recently, me and my husband planned a trip to San Jose. It wasn’t much of a leisure trip as our main intention was to visit his Hemangi Mami (aunt) who was diagnosed with cancer the second time. We were a little sceptical about the visit cos our visit days were colliding with her chemotherapy dates and we thought it might be uncomfortable for them to treat guests in such a situation. But we went anyways cos she assured us that it will be fine.

FINE?? It was much much more than fine!! Fine is an understatement! To my surprise she was totally pepped up, roaming around in the house, doing her daily chores. She was done preparing the breakfast and the lunch before we reached’ so we could enjoy a good chatting time 🙂

When asked if it was ok to do so much while undergoing therapy, I get a reply – ”Oh c’mon, its no big deal! And incase something happens, just call 911. Simple! ”

Not even for a second did I feel that I was in a cancer patient’s home. I met her for the first time and have fallen in love with her! We were chit chatting and I was discussing how it is a lil difficult to manage some things in a new place with new people around. To that I get  – ”Nothing is difficult. Do what you want to do. Keep faith and be positive. Things will work your way.”

To hear such positive words and see such a larger than life attitude is no less than a miracle in itself… And what’s more, this lady, while taking her treatment, counsels other cancer patients!

She keeps herself busy by painting, teaching art to kids, visits the hospital to meet other patients and takes such good care of her family. Oh and despite of having a beautiful wig, she prefers to go bald. She finds it ‘cool’ and more ‘comfortable’!

Now with such amazing people in my life, I dont think i’ll ever fall short of love, courage and positivity 🙂

They are just being humble when they thank us for our support… but in fact THEY are our support system.

They teach us how to live, how to smile and most of all how to fight the toughest of situations. When a scary, beastly thing like cancer approaches them with its full might, they simply shrug their shoulders and say ‘whatever’!

Take a bow ladies… take a bow…

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Aruna aunty and Hemangi mami are fighting this battle for the second time… they are very strong but our support can make a difference. Please pray for their speedy recovery…

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In loving memory of my dearest grandfather Bhau Ajoba, my Maushi Aji from Pune and Priti aunty – better known as Kiran Bedi amongst her friends.

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Husband strikes again!

Hey there,

So from one of my earlier posts you know how we have a war situation at home when there’s even a mention of ‘buying a new gadget’.

No I will not get into who wins or loses in that war. In fact after this last dialogue between me and my ‘loving’ husband (yes the quotes are intentional), I think it’s very clear that I don’t even stand a chance to have an opinion on the topic!

A few days back we were enjoying a nice friday evening. I made his favorite fish fry (notice the thoughtful wife here) and he got me my favorite black rum – Old Monk (huh no brownie points for that. We were out of liquor and someone had to get it). The statement  – food is the way to a man’s heart, stands 100% true. I think whoever wrote it had my husband in mind! So everything is going great… Nice dinner with a movie, good ambience….until I ask him a question. A question that is otherwise considered to be a very lovey – dovey one. A question that I think has a few standard answers to make the other person happy.

I asked him – How much do you love me? Now before I continue, I would like to clarify that I did it on purpose and just for fun. No  emotions attached or anything… (well for those who disagree, sorry,, you have to believe me :P). I often do it to irritate him cos he has only one answer and feels awkward when he has to repeat it the 1000th time. hehehe I love that 🙂 He still answered but I was in a mood to stretch it a lil so I asked him  – ”If you had to choose between me and your gadgets what would you choose?”

Now on that, any husband… I mean any any any husband would have said – ”You” RIGHT???? …..WRONG!!!! Actually I didn’t even get a chance to finish my question… It went something like – ”If you had to choose between me and your gaaa”… and he instantly replied -“gadgets”.

I swear I stared at him for a good 5 mins! He was smart enough to sense the silence before the storm so he tried to cover it up with some very filmy dialogues… you don’t even wanna know! sigh!

Picture this – I’m drowning in deep waters with his camera around my neck and he jumps in, swims against the tides, battling the fierce water only to reach out and take the camera away! huh! And I’m like – Dude, what about me???? Gulp gulp blob!

Well, after a lot of stares and frowns we decided that this conversation of ours is best forgotten (As if there was any other option!). Obviously I was pulling his leg and so was he (still keeping my fingers crossed while saying this… just incase you know.. I dont wanna go gulp gulp blob!).

I think its safe to say that girls, or more specifically ME, will never understand a guys attachment to electronics. Their mirror neurons start acting up like crazy the minute they spot anything gadgety. And if you are with them, they’ll turn to you with the most innocent puppy eyes. Such expressions I tell you!  But he compensates in his own way so I dont have any complaints as such 🙂 And by that I mean he buys me stuff that I like.

Now we have a new household budget and guess what.. I’m secretly saving to buy him a new camera 🙂 The puppy eyes can really change your mind!

Thats love I guess…my love for him, his love for his gadgets 😛

My dad has Multi Personality Syndrome

Hi,

Yes you read it right. My dad has MPS, short for multi personality syndrome. A condition that has lasting effects on oneself and others who come in contact. Me and family are still finding ways to come around it…sigh!

OK ok ok…. don’t get tensed or serious and no need to google MPS… Yes the term does exist but when it comes to my dad… it’s a whole other MPS with a totally twisted meaning! Ooops sorry if I got you the serious way :/ hehehehe but what to do… Like father like daughter…just cant live without fun n pranks! 🙂

When I was born he must have thought I would be a handful.  That’s why he took the job of being my dad.  He knew he could handle it.  And he must have known that I would need him to help keep me on the straight and narrow.  For that I am grateful.  Grateful for every time he gave me advice, even though I might not have always seemed grateful at the time.

But who knew HE was going to top the charts when it comes to being a handful!

He is weird. YES he is… but is the intelligent weird… you know what I mean,..no?? OK…here are some examples –

1. A fantastic orator and marketing wizard : Has knowledge almost about everything under the sun BUT Never ever participates in a non professional debate! Why?? Well, mostly because all the debates in the family or with friends start after 10.00pm after gulping down the fluid ;P So he is really smart!

2. He is a liar : He says watching sitcoms and movies are a waste of time and one should do something productive. I have always seen him reading business magazines, economic times, business books, following the stock market on tv/newspaper/personal tab..basically i have always seen him with the serious stuff… and yet, when me and my sis are having some stupid Bollywood related conversation, he updates us with the latest in the tinsel town! he actually told us who Preity Zinta broke up with and who she is dating now!!! i mean seriously… he needs to let go off some news!!

3. Obsessed with his own stuff : All the things that he owns are the bestestestest! yeah.. try to argue with that! ya,,,like a kid who cannot tolerate anybody else’s stuff to be cooler than his! Whoever knows my dad and is reading this is nodding right now…i know for sure! It could be his car, his laptop, his personal tab, his office, the list goes on.. he gets attached to his things and since he is a smooth talker, he makes you agree with him!! Ask his son-in-law..he has been a victim many a times! pss pss… I love it when he looses to dad..khee khee khee.. that was my sly laugh btw ;D

4. The protector : Moms are the most protective about their children. HUH… meet him and you will take back your words! guaranteed! He is by far the most protective mammal on earth! He used to make me and sister wear knee pads, elbow pads, helmet  and carry a walky-talky when we went out to play!! This is just one example. And no it doesn’t end there. Our friends have been victims of papa kangaroo too! Yup, i know who all are nodding!

5. The strong one : He says – Be strong. Face all the difficulties with courage. Never get scared of anything…daddy is always right behind you! pss pss except the time when you are facing mom!

6. The perfect host : We were told that we happen to get a lot of guests at our place cos according to numerology, a house number that adds up to 5 is best suited for a hotel, guest house etc. I will have to agree to that cos all our house numbers coincidently add up to number 5. But it is only possible when you have a warm and welcoming host like my dad. He is welcoming and how! You wont believe if I told you this but its hilarious… We have had the most unexpected guests. For example, my uncle is a doc and he casually mentioned to one of his patient who was travelling to Delhi, that my dad will be in town and he can contact him if needed. He did for reason and we ended up treating his family for a good week at our place! That’s my dad…so when I tell you he will help, I mean he WILL help.
7. The multi Tasker : Every time I think of this incident, I laugh my heart out. So here it goes… My sister had just learnt to ride a bicycle and was all happy to ride her brand new one. Dad wanted it to be fun also wanted it to be a good way of exercise so he raised the seat a lil high so she would stretch. ummmm ok a lil too high and that made it difficult for her to get off the cycle. So basically she could ride on but couldn’t get off without help. hehehe… so dad helped her start and stood aside as she took rounds around the house. All was well until my dad got a call. He went inside to take the call and along with him went my sister’s only chance to get off the cycle! Poor thing kept circling around the house for a good 20 mins till she finally got help. Well, this doesn’t prove that he is a multi-tasker or not. I think this shows that he knows his priorities!! hahaha (oops…my sister is not going to spare me for this one ;/)
8. The entertainer : If he is at party, you will know it! Very spontaneous and witty. He lightens up the room in seconds. A great mimic too.. Sometimes its embarrassing…for us I mean.. not for him.. he doesn’t embarrass easily! And he is a great company to all…Irrespective of the age group. My friends are excited to have him around more than they want me!
9. A professional : Many dads don’t write to their kids and its fine. They don’t have to be expressive all the time. But i they do, how would a simple letter with some info be? This is what I get from my dad –
Dear Kanchan,
This is to inform you that your tickets have been booked for next week. Please find enclosed a copy of your ticket in this mail. Kindly take two prints and carry them along to the airport. Do not forget. Driver will pick you up and bring you home.
Should you need more details, do not hesitate to call me.
THIS! THIS is how a casual letter from my dad
looks like!! You think it was toooo professional? To tone it down, he signs off with –
Love,
dad
hahahahaaha!! my friends had a good laugh that day after reading this professional yet unprofessional letter!
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The list and examples can go on…
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But on a serious note, there is one thing that he says and follows himself – Smile… and the world will smile back at you 🙂

I have never seen him without a smile on his face and everyone who knows him will agree. Me and family know well that behind that smile, is an iron heart that has experienced a lot of hardship and is full of dedication and a never-say-die attitude!

I think he is pretty awesome and I’m glad he is the one I call ‘dad’.

Happy Father’s Day daddy! – and Im saying this with a big smile 🙂