Our close-knit cancer family met on 31 May, 2020 to partake in Krishna Mistry’s cancer journey. Krishna wrestled with cancer as a twelve year old and is now a warrior who tells her tale so that others may draw courage from it. Over 29 participants from across the country logged in for this virtual session of Onco.com’s cancer support group Talk Your heart Out.
Let me tell you a story
Storytelling is one of the oldest traditions of humankind. From the painting in the Chauvet cave, we know that even 30,000 years ago humans enjoyed narrating their experiences to others. That communal emotion has not changed with time. We still love to recount our adventures and ordeals to others, just as we also love to listen to their own stories. This mutual sharing brings us closer, giving us a feeling of safety and warmth. It is a way of assuring each other that we are together in this journey of life with all its ups and downs.
Understanding this well, Krishna Mistry chose to talk about her cancer using the camouflage of a story. She wove a spell-binding story of how a little girl got rid of a ‘clingy friend’ who followed her around, making her sick and anxious. The audience listened with rapt attention as they followed the little girl’s trail from the age of 12 to adulthood when she was finally able to get rid of this clingy friend.
Towards the end of her narrative, it was revealed that the little girl was none other than Krishna herself and this clingy friend was none other than her troublesome and stubborn cancer. She chose to cast her cancer in the role of a friend because it was a part of her childhood days, and she wanted to give it a supporting role for helping her grow and mature into a young lady.
The tale of a tumour
Krishna has suffered from brain tumour in her childhood and had undergone rigorous treatment for this. Identifying the cancer in the early stages helped ensure that the treatment was successful. The only symptom she had was a headache, but not ignoring this symptom and seeking timely medical care saved Krishna’s life.
Although she has suffered much due to it, she also admits that cancer made it possible for her to learn the most valuable lessons of her life. For one, she has grown up to be a strong individual who can face any adversity that life throws at her. She has also understood the value of her family. If it were not for them, she is certain that she would not have made it through.
Krishna’s parents stood by her through every part of the treatment and through every side-effect that resulted from it. Her bond with her parents and her two siblings has withstood all the storms that childhood cancer brought into their lives. And together they have triumphed over every tide and every broken dream.
Family to the rescue
Krishna’s parents then joined the session to add to her story. As Krishna’s immunity was compromised due to cancer, her mother retold how she oversaw everything Krishna ate to ensure she would not suffer from any infections. She recalls how no raw foods were allowed and even eating from a sleeve of biscuits that were left open and unattended for a few minutes was prohibited.
Krishna’s siblings also joined the session to show their support for her as she shared her story with a group of people she had never met before. She also answered questions from the participants who were curious to know more about how she coped with her diagnosis and what sort of diet she followed post-cancer.
Krishna’s family confirmed that they strictly adhered to the protocols set for her by the doctors and timely food and sufficient rest was a strict part of Krishna’s routine. Some of the participants voiced their admiration for Krishna’s mother’s perseverance in caring for her. Every meal, every activity was chosen by her mother with utmost care, to ensure that the Krishna remained healthy.
United by cancer
Tips and anecdotes were exchanged, with each participant wanting to add to the atmosphere of positive support that our moderator Harish has built through that session. One of our participants eloquently appreciated Krishna’s courage as a child, and now as an adult dealing with the social aftermath of cancer.
Krishna’s family is from Nairobi and they wished that this support group would reach out to Africa soon. They felt there were many who would benefit from belonging to such a community. The reassurance and comfort that this support group provides to all its participants is evident. We eagerly await the next session, when we can exchange stories once again. Until then we shall retain Krishna’s narrative on our minds, to strengthen us during our weak moments, and to give us the hope we need to carry on.