“Life has no limitations, except the ones you make.” – Les Brown
It sounds too cliché, doesn’t it? Something you read on a poster or a t-shirt. Words meant to make you feel better, even if they are not realistic.
But when words turn into deeds, we find proof that they are possible. One such proof is the life of Aviral Singh, the speaker at our last Talk Your Heart Out session.
Watch him talk about how you can stay positive during and after cancer:
Aviral’s cancer story
In 2016, Aviral was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. His treatment was rigid and he remembers going into a semi-coma for a couple of days.
When he would regain consciousness, the pain would make him violent, to the extent of physically harming his family members.
His parents were distraught at seeing their young son suffer with the side-effects of cancer treatment. Being from the medical field themselves, they knew more than most people about how difficult this treatment was.
Making his own rules
Once Aviral started recovering from cancer, many restrictions were placed on him. Some were for his benefit. These involved nutritional advice, medicines and schedules for follow-up visits to the doctors.
However, there were some other restrictions that were set upon Aviral. At a social level, he felt that people expected him to be weak and sick, just because he was a cancer survivor. Many survivors have heard comments addressed to them that show this attitude; “You don’t look like a cancer survivor.”
He had lost a lot of weight during his treatment and so he decided to start training to build up his stamina and his body. He chose to train in mixed martial arts, even though he knew the training would be a tough one. He wanted to break out of the mould that was set for a cancer survivor.
He made it a point to tell his coach at the very start about his medical history. Accordingly, the training was personalised for Aviral so that he would not hurt himself or suffer from fatigue.
Adapting to new situations
Similarly, Aviral was unorthodox in his choice of career as well. He was passionate about photography even before his cancer diagnosis. But after cancer this passion increased manifold.
He knew the path ahead would be difficult as it involved a good amount of travel, and long working hours. It’s a highly competitive industry and everyday brings new challenges.
The pandemic has also further restricted work and working options. Since he has a compromised immune system, he needs to be extra careful about keeping away from infections. But he was sure that he could not give up on his chosen career just because he was a cancer survivor.
He takes his precautions but does not let this stress him out. He always keeps an extra bottle of sanitiser with him and stocks up on cleaning products at his studio. If he has models coming over for a shoot, he has to ensure that they are sanitised and that he minimises his exposure to any viruses.
Staying away from home also has its own set of challenges. Since he needs to pay attention to his nutrition, he needs to cook the right kind of foods for himself. He needs to ensure his home is always clean and free of germs.
But all these efforts are totally worth it for him, as they allow him to fulfil his dreams. His career is a source of joy for him. He enjoys how it allows him to be creative and also gives him his own space.
Sky is the limit
Today, four years since he completed his cancer treatment, Aviral continues his mixed martial arts training, and is a fashion and product photographer.
Aviral’s message to other cancer fighters and survivors is straight-forward:
Don’t let cancer stop you from doing what you love. Find a way to live your dream, no matter how difficult it might seem at the beginning.
In our cancer support group, Talk Your Heart Out, we have many such survivors who live life on their own terms, defying all odds.
Anjali Gadoya became a pageant winner after breast cancer. She now learns belly dancing and acting.
Debarati Sarkar has completed her treatment for ovarian cancer and continues to enjoy her motorbike rides across the country.
Shreshtha Mittal is working her way through radiation for breast cancer, while also continuing with her corporate job and her responsibilities at home. You can hear her share her fitness tips at our next Talk Your Heart Out session, this Sunday at 4 pm.
Together, these survivors have proven time and time again that a cancer survivor can do pretty much anything they set their mind to. From managing high-pressure careers to reaching the peak of fitness, nothing is beyond their reach.
Cancer treatment has come a long way, and so have our cancer fighters. What remains is for society to catch up and stop putting them in boxes where they don’t belong.