What breaks your heart? What makes your eyes well up with tears? What makes you take that deep sigh of helplessness? For me, it’s knowing someone genuinely needs help but there is nothing I can do. This explains why I love superhero movies; normal human beings going about their day to day activities, often unpopular (unsung) and unsuccessful but that’s not all there is to them.
Growing up, I learnt a habit that I have not been able to detach from 20 years on. When my mother passed on, I felt helpless and vulnerable. I had many questions. The one question that refused to go away was, “What could I have done to save her?” This question was persistent and intrusive. For the next many years I learnt to play in mind different scenarios of what I would do if I had super powers.
This is the same feeling I get every time I hear that someone is battling cancer. I feel helpless and it makes me wish I had some super powers that would somehow get rid of cancer forever! To say the truth, I wish I had superpowers to equip our hospitals with not just equipment but also the resources required to eradicate the hopelessness that comes with disease.
I wish I had superpowers to develop “a hope pill” that would make patients believe that a better day would come. That they would recover fully. I wish I had an injection that helped patients “catch up” with what they “missed out on” when they were unwell. I really wish I had superpowers. Sigh.
This month, I celebrate men, women and children who in my mind and heart are the real the superheroes; cancer patients. My heart literally collapses when I think about the life a person, whether an adult or child, battling cancer. The emotions, the pain, the costs, the effect of the disease on family; how can anyone have the strength to go through all that and still have inner strength to believe in better days? These are truly superheroes living among us.
Have you ever stopped for a minute to put yourself in the shoes of a person who wakes up one morning ready to go about with their normal day only to find there is “something off” with their body? Imagine what they feel when they leave the hospital having been told they have cancer. Imagine how they feel when they have to break the news to their spouses, their children and their family.
What goes on in their minds when they realize they don’t have enough money for treatment? What goes on in their hearts when they have to deal with the possibility of not making it out alive? How do they feel when they have to access resources they had saved for their children? How do parents feel when they have to be taken care of by their children who in their eyes should be living out their own dreams? How do children feel when their parents use all their retirement savings to pay for the treatment?
There is so much that goes on in the lives of people who are or have battled cancer. We can never comprehend how they feel no matter how articulately someone shares their experience. Whether it’s a story of pain and uncertainty or its one of hope and survival, to many of us they remain just that, stories. To the people who go through these experiences, it’s a part of life that they will have to carry for the rest of their lives. The pain, the cost, fears, the hopes, the disappointments, the regrets, the lessons, the faith the doubts and the wishes; no amount of words will ever capture what that experience meant and still means to them.
For the rest of us, even though we cannot fathom what it means to battle with cancer, we can support families that are. Definitely financial support would go a long way but support should not be limited to finances alone. Emotional and social support is as important as the finances. So this month take time to step out and support someone or a family that is battling with cancer. Your support, little as it may seem will go a long way.
To our #PinkShujaas we honor and celebrate you.
Edited by Wanjiku Kimaru