The “C” Word
For the longest time after my father passed away, I couldn’t bring myself to say the “C” word. Not “care” or “cure” or some other spoken profanity, but the kind that rhymes with one of Santa’s reindeer except it reeks the opposite of cheer. You may have guessed it already - the dreadful word that turned my world upside down is “cancer”.
Over five years ago, my dad departed this physical world; just 10 weeks after he was diagnosed with glioblastoma – an aggressive form of brain cancer – and about eight weeks of palliative care provided by us, his family, at his own home sweet home. My first-born child was only four weeks old at the time, so you can imagine my plight…
Watching Dad suffer and deteriorate from cancer, along with the negative impact on my entire family, was excruciatingly painful for me. I had never felt that level of anxiety and angst before this chapter in my life. I even started to question my own mortality which kept me up most nights. My emotions were all over the place during that period of time…I couldn’t bring myself to utter the word (cancer) when anyone asked what had happened; and this went on for months after my dad died.
Since the death, I have developed such a complex relationship with the disease as cancer continues to touch those that I love:
- My eldest, maternal aunt – breast cancer – in remission
- My brother – olfactory neuroblastoma (nasal cancer) – in remission
- And most recently, my maternal aunt (who I consider a second mother to me) is currently being treated for pancreatic cancer via chemotherapy.
At present day, my focus has shifted, and I now strongly desire to shout, “F cancer” and fight! My voice has been empowered and is no longer silenced as the last 60+ months, combined with much self-reflection and therapy, has led me to strongly believe in the importance of:
- Spreading cancer awareness
- Advocating for your own physical and mental health and,
- Supporting initiatives that can heavily contribute to combating this terrible disease.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, “2 in 5 Canadians (44% of men and 43% of women) are expected to develop cancer during their lifetime.” Though that statistic may seem alarming to some, I refuse to accept cancer as a death sentence. At the age of 42 with a wife and four young children counting on him, my brother was able to beat his cancer with an early diagnosis and treatment via operation. I may have lost my father to cancer, but my brother’s survival gives me the hope I choose to hold onto in order to make progress. I am motivated now more than ever to use my voice loud and clear for myself, my husband, my children, my extended family, my friends, and for future generations to come.
If you or someone you know is battling cancer or, is a family member or caregiver of someone with cancer, or has lost a loved one to cancer, here are some helpful resources:
Canadian Cancer Society: Helpline, 1.888.939.3333
Princess Margaret Hospital: Psychosocial Oncology Clinic, 416.946.4525
Bereaved Families of Ontario (Toronto Chapter): firstname.lastname@example.org or @bfotoronto on Instagram
Written by Regina Ashna Singh, a resident blogger with Jewmei.com.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 30% of profits will be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society when you shop on Jewmei.com until Oct. 31.