At Onco.com, World Cancer Day was not just an event for a day but it was a celebration of the courage of cancer fighters that ran over six days, across six different cities, covering the four corners of India.
Each of the six cities hosted a “Talk Your Heart Out” event, where cancer survivors, fighters, caregivers and supporters convened to share their cancer journeys. Here is a brief recounting of what took place in each city.
Superstars of Mumbai
You have heard of the superstars of Bollywood, but Mumbai is also home to some lesser-known stars, like super granny Anjali Gadoya, a grandmother fighting cancer while continuing to live life to its fullest, and Riya, who is fighting meningitis and leukemia at the same time. We also heard from Deepa, who was the caregiver for her mother, a cancer patient.
The group appeared to bond over the adversities they faced and how they overcame it, providing each other relief and immense support. Everyone showcased an unusual amount of courage and the realisation that cancer is one amongst many diseases that we face in our lives and that we can defeat it with hope and positivity.
Warmth in Hyderabad
Hyderabad saw an intimate gathering of 10, who spent the evening of February 4, World Cancer Day, partaking in a thought-provoking discussion on the acceptance of cancer.
Survivors spoke of how they have been coping with life after cancer. The warmth of communal concern filled the room and the hearts of those present. Meanwhile, two caregivers expressed their experiences in a manner that made the group realise the benefits of circles that gather people to come and share their stories.
Often patients and caregivers struggle to accept a diagnosis of cancer; even more so to accept the loss of a loved one. Diksha spoke about her husband who lost his battle to cancer and she emphasized the need to take every symptom seriously and not delay the diagnosis by avoiding a medical consult. Dolly talked about her mother’s journey through cancer and how she felt the need for care coordination during cancer treatment where every day might pose a new concern and one needs guidance through the days of treatment.
The participants who attended this session also included oncologists, who provided a different perspective – that of the battle from the other side – those treating cancer. They each spoke of their struggle to accept the loss of a patient whom they have treated with utmost care and sincerity.
Kolkata ups its cool quotient
In Kolkata, we met Debrati, a cancer survivor who is also a biker. She shared her cancer journey, and present to hear her were her three caregiver friends who have seen her through her difficult adventure.
Apart from a mix of 11 patients and caregivers who gathered here, there was also a cancer researcher who spoke about his work on cancer cells.
Everyone exchanged thoughts about ways to prevent cancer and how to fight this foe. As is typical while in Kolkata, even this gathering, for a seemingly solemn cause, was full of mirth and banter.
Delhi shows its lion heart
In Delhi, Aviral shared his story of how he continued to pursue his career and passion for photography and styling on completion of his cancer treatment. Despite suffering several side-effects during his chemo sessions, he went on to commence work within two months of completion of the treatment.
He believes that it is his love for his career that kept him motivated through the dark hours of the treatment. Today, he is also fuelled up to spread awareness on cancer and try and motivate every person dealing with cancer to fight it with their heads held high.
Leadership speaks up in Ahmedabad
The event in Ahmedabad saw leaders from different walks of society turning up to talk about how we can spread awareness on the prevention and screening of cancer. Leaders of the Anganwadi sisters, president of the NSS in Ahmedabad and heads of educational institutions brainstormed on how they can create a blueprint for reducing the cancer burdens within their communities by tying up with different hospitals, as well as Onco.com.
Blessings from Bangalore
A meaningful interaction between cancer fighters and survivors in Bangalore brought the series of Talk Your Heart Out events to a suitable close. Of those who gathered here were two survivors, one person in remission, one person currently fighting a relapse in her cancer and several caregivers exchanging notes on how they handle cancer.
It was heart-warming to see the survivors rally around to support and encourage those who were currently fighting cancer. It was as if the fight was not an individual’s fight against cancer, but that of everyone.
We were united in our joys and sorrows around cancer. An initiative like Talk Your Heart Out exists as a reassurance that no one is alone in their cancer journey. Talking our hearts out makes the pain of dealing with cancer, both physically and emotionally, more bearable and less hindering to living life with vigour and positivity.
If you are interested in attending a ‘Talk Your Heart Out’ session or know anyone else who would benefit from this, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, if you have a story to share or would like to speak about an experience you have had with cancer, please email us on email@example.com