Chennai: Meena P, a leukaemia survivor, was unable to tell her 15-year-old daughter that she had cancer. However, keeping a secret from her only child was something she couldn’t bear to do. With great courage, she finally opened up and was surprised at how supportive and caring her daughter Binnie was about the whole situation.
Despite cancer awareness and cure being discussed on many occasions such as at health camps and workshops, the need for creating support systems and groups to help cancer patients in their fight is still unheard of as discussing one’s struggles with cancer openly is considered a taboo.
“Though doctors try their best to tell patients that cancer is curable, even today, many believe that cancer is equivalent to death. It is, therefore, highly essential for family members of cancer patients to believe otherwise in order to be able to encourage the patient,” said oncologist Dr N. Suganti.
“There are different stages when cancer patients, especially women, get extremely emotional, one of which is when she starts losing her hair during chemotherapy. Being completely supportive and talking it out could make a big difference,” she added.
With the lack of many support groups in the country to provide any form of moral support, cancer patients, when depressed or suicidal, get in touch with counsellors for some hope.
“I have received so many calls from cancer patients- both young and old – especially women. Being patient and hearing them out is very important. They tend to question God’s existence or wonder if they are being punished for something they had done,” said counsellor Dr P. Nilam.
“I had met a woman with fourth stage cancer two years ago. She was angry with herself and everybody around her. We had a long talk following which she promised to enjoy the last few months of her life, and she did. “She would go on trips and send me pictures. She was full of life until she was no more. Cancer patients deserve to speak out and be spoken to. It serves as a wonderful therapy,” said the counsellor.
Stressing on the need for cancer patients to meet and spend time with other cancer patients and survivors, Psychiatrist Dr Parvathy. K said, “Every individual’s fight is different and their stories could encourage another individual to fight harder and believe.”...