Zuvius: Did you make any new friends during your Cancer treatment? Can you talk about anyone special?
Varshaa: A couple of special mentions, firstly a 65 year old lady who had visited my hospital room and had shared her story about being operated twice for her ovarian cancer and her gruelling post operation treatment that didn’t end her life. I don’t recall her name but she was a CPAA volunteer sharing her experience so that I could be motivated to see the fact that life doesn’t ends with cancer. I guess I never feared death, so that staying alive aspect didn’t create a big impact on me, what inspired me was her zest for life at that age of 65years which was nearly two and a half times my age back then. Here was this lady, well dressed with an elegant pearl string for an accessory and a great diction to impress. She could have utilized her time, energy and resources to do anything for herself but here she was, taking the pains to come all the way from Colaba to share her experiences with an unknown cancer patient hospitalized in Bandra. I guess this experience lingers on my subconscious mind, more so because I too am like her who would love to take out time for healing and nurturing others. I too support two cancer support groups and spend time with hospitalized cancer patients as and when it’s possible for me.
Second mention is about a well-established painter Mr. Madhusudan Kumar whom I had contacted as my mom wanted to get my late father’s portrait painted. He agreed to paint within our budget despite being a very expensive artist and he himself couldn’t figure out what got him to agree at that price. Probably it was karmic coz associating with him had a two way effect. One was on my mom since she landed up reconnecting to her inherent skill as a painter when she gave some magical touches to his painting which was lifeless. Even the painter was surprised to see how effortlessly she brought in the soul in my father’s eyes and face in that portrait. The painter wasn’t aware that I was struggling with cancer and had assumed that I was wearing the bandana as a style statement. The impact of this on my life was that I realized that only you know your issues so don’t assume that the whole world knows and understands your state of mind and circumstances. Secondly you can make your weaknesses your greatest strengths provided you do so with confidence and courage. In a couple of years, time and destiny held my hand and led me from this life of an underdog and victim of cancer into the world of film writing after I joined a script writing course just for the heck of learning something new. At this time in life I received a call from Madhusudanji that he was curating some art show and his most famous life size portrait was something that he was trying to get from the owners so that he could display that at the art show and he since he had recalled how he had messed up my father’s portrait and my mom had magically fixed it up with a couple of quick effortless strokes he had called to invite mom and me for his art show. Since I was back to my home I conveyed that I would call up mom and pass on his invite to her. He was confused since he had assumed that I was unmarried and living with my mom. When I told him about the cancer treatment episode he was shocked coz he had assumed that the bandana was my style statement. That’s when even I realized the power of my positivity and have been trying to fathom it since then. Gradually I got into the film and glamor industry and he was one of the initial people who were instrumental in my peep into this new world of glamor, literati and a made up world from close quarters. I guess I have always been the person making new friends due to my extrovert and outgoing nature but this illness made me contrary to the above as I internalized and connected to my real inner self, my inherent inner strengths as well as rediscovered my lost self-confidence due to my struggles prior to being detected.
LIFE LESSON 7:People you come across your life closely or in the fleeting are not here co-incidentally, they are here for a purpose to add to your life in one way for the other and it’s entirely on you to decipher the indications and figure out their relevance. Secondly for inner peace one must be their own best friend for which they have to train their minds to accept their shortfalls and improve on those shortfalls. Simultaneously one must identify their inner strengths and strengthen their self-confidence to use this strength to the best of their potentials and move forward in life adding value to your own life as well as that of others around you.
Also read: A Little Story Of Hope
Zuvius: What did you learn about your friends and family during this difficult period of fighting the disease?
Varshaa: I realized firstly that no one can care so selflessly and tirelessly for you like your mother can irrespective of the magnanimity of her own trauma. Secondly I realized that my husband did value my presence in his life contrary to what I used to feel prior to falling ill. Thirdly I realized that good deeds i.e. your karma do add to your advantage in crazy times like these. Fourthly I realized that old friends can be your greatest and truest pillars of strength during traumatic times like these providing you with the right dose of moral boost and nostalgia. Fifthly I realized that your good relations with neighbours can be a boon at such times. Family and friends play a huge role at least for cancer patients because their love, affection, care and attention plays a prime factor of rejuvenation and reassurance that Life is Good.
LIFE LESSON 8:As you sow, so shall you reap whether it’s close family or friends. Relationships are all about giving and instead of expecting others to give, you have to give first without any expectation of the gesture being returned. If you have selflessly done things for people, trust me the goodness comes back to you manifolds from the most unexpected quarters.
Zuvius: What is the first thing you decided to do after you were declared ‘Cancer free’?
Varshaa: I don’t really remember what was the first thing because for me cancer free didn’t come as a single day result, it was a gruesome twelve months followed by several years of follow ups and painful blood tests and restrictions to consume raw food. I say painful because the chemo therapy sessions had burnt out the veins in my right hand and left hand couldn’t be pricked due to the threat of infection because all my infection fighting lymph node in the left arm pit had been removed. But yes my subsequent years were eventful because I diverted all my attention and energy in doing things that gave me happiness. I joined a course in film writing to explore my discovery of the creative me, I pledged my support to two cancer support groups i.e. CPAA & VCare, I started to reconnect with old friends whom I had lost touch with, I stopped feeling guilty for doing things that gave me happiness and last but not the least I started living life by choice instead of by compulsion. Cancer has been a turning point in my life and by God’s grace I stayed determined to use it as my strength rather than my weakness. From that year in 2002 when I was living the life of an under dog, today in 2016 I am spiritually evolved philanthropist and writer who has created a space in this universe. I am trying my best to add value to the lives of my loved ones and am trying equally hard to make my little difference to society and life at large by being the change I wish to see.
LIFE LESSON 9:The only constant is ‘Change’ so no matter what your worries, troubles and challenges they can all be overcome provided you have the fire and determination to overcome them. Over and above that we must have the wisdom and alertness to learn from not just your own past mistakes and experiences but those of others too.
Zuvius: Did having Cancer change your perspective on life, people and things around you? What is the most important lesson that this ailment taught you?
Varshaa: I guess I have always loved life and had a positive and optimistic spirit but this illness helped me connect with my inner strengths and optimism in its true sense.
In terms of the lessons, well I wasn’t expecting this question coming as a separate entity so as I can along be answering each of the above questions I have mentioned what lesson each aspect of life and people have taught me. I will continue to add the Life lessons to balance questions too.
LIFE LESSON 10:Life is a compilation of our perception of situations, words and emotions added with our actions on those perceptions added with our abilities to observe, interpret, apply, adapt and convert circumstances and situations.
Zuvius: Did it affect the lives of people around you? If so, how?
Varshaa: My husband couldn’t accept that he was about to lose his wife and my two-year-old son was confused why his mother went to hospital and then went to nani’s house instead of returning home and why he too couldn’t live with his mother at nani’s house. My mother was completely shattered because she knew exactly what hell her daughter was facing since she too had gone through this hell ten years ago but she was trying to stay tough in front me and nurse me. My mother in law was trying to cope up with a little two-year-old kid who was confused and I was missing my son but he wasn’t allowed to come and live with me at my mom’s place. So basically each of us had to suffer in our own individual ways.
LIFE LESSON 11:Take good care of yourself and take all possible measures to prevent physical and emotional ailment because it’s not just you yourself who will suffer the consequences of your carelessness towards yourself but you nearest most and dearest most will suffer much more than you because while you get busy fighting your illness, you family feels totally helpless and drained of all resources tangible as well as in tangible. So be responsible for yourself first then only will you be in a position to take up the responsibility of others.
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