Survivor Speak: Cancer, in the Words of Neelam Kumar

by Team Onco

We have all heard that we should muster the courage to face our problems. But the idea that we can not just face these problems but even take advantage of them, seems implausible, till you meet Neelam Kumar. 

The first thing that strikes you about her is her infectious energy. She is bubbling over with positive thoughts and ideas. She has so much to offer to anyone who needs advice or even a word of encouragement, and she is so willing to offer it. Once you can look beyond her cheerful persona, you will notice the depth in her perspectives. You can tell that she has been through a lot in life, because every thought she puts across is marked with experience and sensitivity. 

Courage Has No Bounds

So how did Neelam Kumar get to be such a treasure of experience? By living through a lot of perils, not passively, but actively working her way through life. Having lost her husband at the age of 35, Neelam found herself building a career while taking care of her two young children. She had no time to grieve. Her honesty is evident when she narrates how she reacted to her first diagnosis of breast cancer, in 1996. “That time I did it wrong,” she admits, explaining that she felt bitter and had no emotional support. In 2013, she was diagnosed for the second time. By this time, she had seen so many ups and downs in life that she was prepared for pretty much anything life threw at her. 

Cancer can leave scars beyond the physical. It can be a daunting experience that few would want to revisit. While you and I may look upon cancer as something to get away from, Neelam used her cancer to further her talents. She began to write her first book on cancer while she was still undergoing chemotherapy. She knew her story needed to be told. Today, she has authored several cancer books, including Sonali Bendre’s story in ‘Healed: How Cancer Gave Me a New Life.’


To Cancer, With Love

One of her cancer books, ‘To Cancer, With Love’, has been converted into a graphic novel with vibrant illustrations and an easy-to-read narration. It takes the gloom out of how cancer is usually portrayed in mass media and gives it a light-hearted, almost mischievous touch that is characteristic of Neelam. She continues to inspire many cancer fighters and others across the world, with her speeches, books and interviews. She is living proof that adversities can take us to new heights. 


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