Cancer makes one see life in a very different light. Having lost someone to cancer, the pain and trauma one has cannot be measured. For me, it was always about growing with that experience. Samara Mahindra is an inspirational person, who having lost her mother to cancer 7 years ago, grew through that experience. This is what she had to say about it -
We know there were obvious reactions of shock when you first heard your mother to be detected with cancer, but was there something you did or your family did to deal with it without too much panic?
The initial diagnosis definitely brought in too much panic, and it seemed like the end of the road. But as a family we were very actionable and resilient to hardships, we jumped right into it and made a plan of action. There was a lot of faith and hope, selfless belief and positivity that we surrounded her with, and took each day at one at a time.
In the process of her getting adjusted to all the changes her body was going through, did she have some help? If yes elaborate, if no, what made her manage it alone?
For my mother the entire family put their lives on hold and became a support system for her. From the immediate family to people who helped her medically and at home to even the ones who were close to her. She was detected with Small Cell Carcinoma of the cervix. And the whole time of treatment we all stood as her pillars to her already fierce spirit.
How did she combat her dull days?
She was a very very strong headed woman, and inherently a fighter, she had a lot of willpower, which didn’t allow her to have as many dull days. I now see other patients and realize how strong she was. She would have chemo on one day and back to work on the other. And the seldom dull days she would power through.
How did she spend the days of full energy?
She thought it was little bit of a myth that you need to be clinically hygienic, she wanted to live normally amongst everyone. After one day of Chemo, a few days later people can be back to normal. They cannot go into a crowded market or a cinema hall of course. But she loved travelling, we as a family travelled more during her treatment time than any other time in our life. She was a workaholic, morning to night she was always at work, and when she wasn’t travelling she was working and had her days just pass by. Her immunity was high so that helped her sail through it too.
She would have had a reduced social life, but did that make her stop socializing all together? Or dressing up? Did she do something different?
Not the most social person, her life was her children, travelling and work, she did retract meeting people. She didn’t like to discuss her illness, she didn’t want to address it. Hence the normalcy. She was particular about the way she looked, losing her hair was devastating, but she wore beautiful hair pieces and walked out in pride.
Were there any new ways in which she managed her oral care, and her spa needs?
She was someone who was particular about the way she looked, so she made sure her nails were intact, self-indulgent in pampering herself and always made sure she didn’t feel like she was ill. There may have been a part of her that didn’t want to accept what befell on her, but the way she dealt with it, gave us a lot of strength.
Any instances of her being unhappy with her doctor? How did you work around that?
She became very close to her doctor. When she was first diagnosed, we went to the UK, and the doctors there were rather upfront about it. It was when she relapsed, she met an incredible doctor and became best friends.
Do you have anything from your experience to particularly mention?
One thing that made me really learn was the importance of self-expression, or acknowledging and expressing what you’re going through, one would want like-minded people to help you, it need not be a lonely journey. Important even in your healing, for how much it is all stigmatised. You can be the most successful person and have it all, my own mother had a rags to riches story, and she had travelled the world, built a successful company, everything at her disposal, but in the end we all are running and fighting, ignoring our health in the process, so it all doesn't matter how far you reach, if you do not care for yourself, it all sort of goes in vain.
Samara Mahindra: Founder & CEO of CARER Program
- As spoken with Chandini Hemdev