Cancer Patients Talk About How They Motivate Themselves

World Cancer Day: Cancer Patients On How They Motivate Themselves

Updated06 Feb 2020, 06:02 AM IST
4 min read

On some days, getting out of the bed is tough. But to get out of the bed after a gruelling, body beating session of chemotherapy? That takes a whole other level of motivation.

For anyone who screenshots quotes on positivity, only to abandon them the minute a tiny challenge comes their way, it's particularly inspirational to hear accounts of those who still kept their positive spirit beaming, even in the midst of a life changing, terminal illness.

Ratna Jajoria, a Senior Executive who offers counselling through telephone helplines at Can Support talks about how the idea of normalcy motivated her most when it came to battling cancer.

I used to love making alloo parathas for my family. But during the chemo, I could not knead the dough. So I would ask my kids to dough it for me. After the dough was done, I would make them lovely parathas... The fact that my daily life kept going on, even in the midst of a crisis, gave me great strength
Ratna, Cancer Survivor

Ratna, who regularly reads Nav Bharat Times, also tells us how she also drew strength from a story published in the paper.

It was the story of a man, who came to a well with his thirsty horse, but could not get him to drink the water as his horse was getting irritated by the bell tied to a nearby ox.

Upon asking that the bell be removed from the ox, the man was told, "In this life, if you want to drink water, you go on despite the noise and the troubles."

That gave Ratna the strength to go on with her life, despite the cancer.

For artist Kartikey Sharma, who battled cancer not once but twice, the biggest motivation was that he get better to create ... yup, art.

Oh and also, getting to finally sip alcohol with friends!

I remember after three years of diagnosis, I could finally have a normal gathering because most of the treatments disallow you from them. So when I finally had a gathering with friends and tasted alcohol after so many years, I felt good. That was also a motivating feeling!
Kartikey Sharma, Artist

For Rajni Arora, who was diagnosed with cancer when her youngest child was only 13, in 2002, motivation came (literally) in a tiny packet.

"Mumma, Are you Gonna Die?" No Sweety, I am Going to Be Here... for You

I told my son, who was only 13-and-a-half at the time, about the cancer and the first question he asked me was, "What if you are gonna die?" And I remember categorically telling him, "No sweety, I am going to be here for you."
Rajni Arora, Cancer Survivor

Rajni had a fourth family member who was completely dependent on her - her sister who was emotionally fragile and sensitive.

Just two years back, both Rajni and her sister had faced the loss of their mother to cancer. After the umbilical cord broke, Rajni felt her sister won't be able to take another loss. Her sister's fear, and Rajni's concern for her, in turn provided more motivation for her to battle the cancer head on!

But hey, Rajni is human too! Even though Rajni counts herself as a strong person, even she had her tough days.

"I wanted to look well (for my husband and kids), but there were days when I would say I don't feel fine right now."

Folks that's another truth about cancer, survivors can't (and shouldn't even be expected to) put a brave front in front of the world.

Some days were particularly traumatic for her. Days when Rajni crumbled, and when the weight of her terminal illness seemed too much to carry.

I had a very bad radiation episode. The machine was huge and it had a new lever, and then suddenly, the lever almost dropped on my face. It was half a milimetre away. The technician was a novice but I broke down that day. I went and told the radiologist that I have enough stress already, I could do without more trauma. It's not like I haven't had enough.
Rajni Arora, Can Support

On Tough Days, Anjana's Father's Words Helped Her

Dr. Anjana Bhan, an endocrinologist who had to face cancer as a patient, says that on tough days, her father's words helped her.

My father always told me one thing " When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That's my mantra and the rest is up to God"
Anjana Bhan, endocrinologist and cancer survivor

It may sound unbelievable, but self help books too helped this rational, scientific doctor/patient.

I read self help books and they all said the same thing: You must have positive thoughts and positive feelings. Of hope, optimism and righteousness. Yes, I am going through a bad thing but it could be worse.I have so much to be thankful for. That at least I have knowledge, and the money to get the treatment.
Anjana Bhan, endocrinologist and cancer survivor

In an earlier piece, Mandakini, a breast cancer survivor wrote:

You don’t “fight” cancer, you cope with it one day at a time. You don’t think “positive”, you learn to be grateful for the love and support of friends and family, and you don’t stay “strong”, you just learn to get up after being knocked down week after week and most of all you don’t give up, because giving up is not an option.
Mandakini Surie

Perhaps their feelings of motivation aren't the poster quotes at times, but their spirit of not giving up is (as much as some of them may hate it) admirable indeed!

However, equally tough than the chemo, we are sure, is the ridiculous things cancer survivors hear from "well wishing acquaintances."

An acquaintance once called to ask about me, and told me of the three people she had lost to cancer. Before hanging up, she said anyway you get well soon!That's the most insensitive/foolish thing you can tell a person who is actually going through this. Don't refer to patients who have been lost to cancer in front of a patient. But now I laugh at it!
Rajni Arora, Can Support

"You have to keep your wits about you," says Rajni. We can't help but agree (for most of life's challenges but cancer, particularly, for sure)!

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Published: 04 Feb 2020, 04:42 AM IST

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