As I became an oncologist/cancer specialist and started seeing both life and death more closely, my perspectives on life have changed and evolved.
I have learned over years that life is fragile. Life is unpredictable. Yet life is beautiful. Life is to be lived and cherished.
I realized fragility of human body when I first saw a patient in terrible pain caused by a 5 millimeter kidney stone (it was too tiny to cause that enormous pain). I realized fragility of life when I saw a patient having brain hemorrhage and paralysis after a trivial fall at home. Human body and life is really fragile as aptly said by Sant Kabir that human life is like water bubble.
Growing up as doctor, I also learned that diseases and ailments are part of life. What scares me as a health care professional are diseases for which definitive treatment is still not discovered. I am not so much scared of diseases for which treatments are available.
And all my above mentioned believes on life have been re – affirmed by the present corona virus pandemic.
This pandemic almost came like an avalanche for which nobody in the entire world was geared up or prepared. Practically there is no treatment for this infection and all we can do is – prevent it from spreading. If the infection still sets in, we can only give supportive care like oxygen, fluids, ventilation and hope for the best.
When I see cancer patients and I see a tag on them of being “cancer survivor” – I am pained. This tag almost means that these men and women with cancer were not expected to survive this disease and have been fortunate to have somehow survived.
I am sorry, but as an oncologist, I refuse to accept such pessimism towards cancer. And I urge everyone – no cancer, ex cancer, present cancer communities– to reject this pessimism and tag of cancer survivor especially now when all of us are facing fragility of life in the present circumstances of Covid -19 pandemic.
Fortunately for majority of cancers, treatment and hope is there while for viral infections like Corona, treatment is not available.
Adding on, I recently met a young lady who was almost completing her treatment for breast cancer. She shared with me that in the present times of lockdown, her father called her up enquiring how she was coping up with the diagnosis and treatment. She in turn assured her father that she is young and her body is fit to withstand this tough treatment and he need not worry. She even added that thankfully she has got a disease for which treatment and cure is possible. Now that’s what I call as winning and positive attitude.
So, my dear friends let’s live and cherish our fragile lives with gratitude towards one and all and live life without any tags.
MY PERSONAL VIEWS
DR VINEETA GOEL
Associate Director Radiation Oncology Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi