Dear Cancer, I Can Handle Anything Because of You

by Devyani MahajanSurvivor, OsteosarcomaJune 1, 2021View more posts from Devyani Mahajan

Dear Cancer,

Well, in 2017, I thought life was good. There was so much to look forward to. But Cancer, you chose to show your ugly and repulsive face, at a time when everything in my life was how it should be. As a 30-year-old this should not have been something I had to face. Sitting in the doctor’s office being told that I had bone cancer, a rare one at that, and that I would have to have chemotherapy. I had to give up my internship because of you, and I hate you for that. Cancer, you were the reason I had to undergo extremely toxic chemotherapy, have multiple hospital visits, get poked by needles countless number of times, and end up in the ICU fighting for my life. I felt like my body had become a battleground, where chemotherapy which was supposed to be my friend, and which made me feel miserable, and made me lose my hair, while attempting to destroy the cancer growing inside me, which was hideous, and insidious at the same time. There is so much I want to say to you! I lost my hair because of you. Looking at myself in the mirror became difficult for me because I felt it was not me looking back. I felt like I was looking at a stranger, someone I did not recognize. You did that to me, you made me feel that. And I hate you for making me feel like that! I never felt so angry, helpless, vulnerable, and emotionally drained out all at once. You made me feel that, and for that I hate you! I hate the fact that I had to face my mortality as such a young age. I hate you because whenever I wanted to plan anything, I had to consider you being there, and how helpless that made me feel. You made me feel alienated from my friends and family, you made me feel sorry for myself, made me think twice before inviting people over or accepting invitations. You took away my fertility. Why did I go through this?? For what?? You pushed your way through everything, a simple meeting with friends to planning holidays, to deciding whether I simply felt like going out at all. You stole my time away from me. Those are years I will never get back because you took them away from me. Who gave you the right to do that?? Who gave you the right to make me feel lesser than?? How was I supposed to interact with people my age who had no idea what I was going through??

Going through those years of treatment, every paranoid thought crept into my mind. What if the treatment does not work? What if we run out of options? What if I cannot handle the chemo? I had no answers to these questions. Also, I had no choice than to just keep going, hoping that something will eventually work. Being completely broken physically, emotionally, and mentally from treatment led to depression, which made me not even want to get up from my bed, because I just did not see the point in doing anything. In all of this, Cancer, as much as I hate to admit it that you did give me something good, in terms of showing me how strong and resilient I am. I, however, still do not want to be that person who is grateful for what I went through. So ok, while you were terrible, and took so much away from me, I still did have a few things that I will thank you for. One thing I learnt through the whole experience was immense patience. While the chemotherapy, as awful as it was, was still my friend because it was helping me kick your ass. I also learnt that things only happen when they are meant to. So, I learnt to slow down, and live my life in the true sense. And after you literally made me see myself at my most vulnerable and helpless, you helped instill this new sense of confidence in me, that now has given me the courage to face anything that life plans to throw at me. After weathering a storm as brutal and horrible as you, now I feel I can handle anything, because going through chemotherapy has been the hardest thing that I have done in my life.

All the while that you kept hitting me Cancer, wanting me to give up and give in, I kicked you back, and I will keep kicking you hard till you have no choice but to leave me forever.

Sincerely,

Devyani Mahajan

To read this letter and the other letters to cancer, click here to read and download the June 2021 Magazine

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