Today has been heavy...
The day started normally. Got up in the morning, did some work, checked up on some other work.
And then, Mom told me that we have to visit a Cancer Hospice called Jeevodaya. A trip to Jeevodaya has been pending right from the time we went to Coimbatore. They take care of Cancer patients, in the terminal stages. The patients are usually abandoned, or they come there of their own accord.
As I entered there, I had no idea what I was going to face. As I had mentioned in one of my previous posts about Mayuri, a very small girl who was afflicted with cancer when she was 4, and she wanted to meet me because she liked my title song in 'Anbulla Snehidiye'. They got in touch with us and then I went over to meet the kid. This was at Apollo. 3 years back.
One of the first things I saw as I entered was a board which talked about, the day's food donors and the death anniversaries of the people who had breathed their last there.
And then I went across to some sort of a notice board where they had posted the pictures of the people who were suffering from Oral Cancer. It was like NOTHING that I have ever imagined. And then there were notes from the patients, which told parents should make sure that their kids dont smoke, dont drink, dont have Pan Parag, keep away from bad company, and basically have clean habits. There was this one picture of a man who had oral cancer. To describe it grossly it was as if the cancer was just corroding the area in and around his mouth, half of his face had been eaten up by cancer, to reveal something that you might only think will appear in movies and nightmares.
Then the doctor, somehow, was maybe reading my face and the way it was changing, and she said she would understand if I didnt see the patients after all. That was when I broke down. And so did mom, but not as openly as I. I knew she was undergoing the same as I, but she had a ver dignified manner about it. I felt the air was charged with a feeling of dread, impending death, remorse, anger, desolation... all at the same time. This Hospice is at Madhavaram. Almost about 30-40 kilometers from where I live.
My stomach knotted, convulsed. Whatever. And it was then I realized how there were these hundreds of people I know who CRIB CRIB AND CRIB, about their lives, bosses, their Parents, Girlfriends, Boyfriends, Children, Spouse, wotnot... And how they think its sooooo God damn cool to smoke, drink or smoke 'POT' as I have recently learned, drugs.... what not. Why in God's name??? Its abuse to themselves and those around them.
How people fail to realize the gift of life that we have. That our face or any part of our body, insides or outsides is not being eaten up by something, that they are not looked at with pity, looked at by a repulsed face, and to lose what is most important to each human - self worth and dignity....That they can still move about, drive their cars, go out live their life, without having to wonder when its your time. And also that the body we have is such an amazing thing.
Mom then went in to see the patients and she told me that it was nothing like the pictures. And that I must come in to remove the grotesque ideas that I have imagined by then. I went in with the same feeling of dread. Saw a lot of people were down due to the same cancer stick or the bottle of carcinogenics. We lost our appetites. And I am still filled with the feeling of dread. Stillness looming around.. its scary.. the What If....? It will take us a long time to get back to normalcy.
I met a few people, clinging to my mom, heard a very old lady giving loud yelps of pain. And then there was another old lady who loved to sing. She kept singing one song after the other. There was another who was an attention monger, wouldnt let the doctor or anyone else look at anyone else but her, a 20 year old succumbed 5 months after she had been married, and has been paralyzed hip down due to a tumour in her spine, and its now almost 1 1/2 years since she is bed ridden.
The patients were then called and I sang for them. And then both me and mom sang. And this was the first time I sang without closing my eyes, and was never as loud.
Some of the things that the patients have to go through is the extreme pain, and then the odour. They live with it and they realize it troubles the others. A lot want to die. Some live for the moment. And they all realize how valuable life is. And live for the moment, with as much good thoughts as possible. Each day is a struggle, wake up to pain, strut through the day with pain, sleep with pain, dream of pain. And the curse of being dependant on someone else for your personal hygiene. That no one wants you anymore.
There was a lot of anger I felt after I got back into the car when we were leaving after having spent close to 4 hours there. Fury. That people can let something , well what can I say, as stupid as cigarette or alcohol rule their lives. And with smoking all those people ruin the lives of the others too. You drink, fine you drink, you spoil whats in you. You smoke, you spoil what outside you. Your family, friends who dont smoke. Why, maybe smoking should be an essential part of global warming as well.. it is as dangerous, if not more dangerous than vehicular emission. I wonder if this will lead to some kind of a genetic mutation as well. Maybe it will enter the gene pool.
The question of whether cancer can be hereditary is a debatable issue. There isn't apparently, concrete proof, about this. But the doctors do say, that if there is more than 1 case of cancer in your family (in your blood line), you must take more number of tests, be extra careful. But it certainly doesnt mean that you will get it.
True, there are people who have been smoking through their lives have had nothing wrong with them, and those who have had clean habits and succumbed to cancer. To all those who pooh-pooh all this, well God save you.
There are some cases which can be prevented, like oral cancer. The bottom line is this,
Dont have Pan Parag, tobacco, and avoid alcohol as much as possible
Women - Get your Pap-Smear tests done every year after you are 30, and also conduct personal routine examinations.
Have regular health check ups.
Have a high level of personal hygiene.
And I think it could be good to stay away from chemicals, in whatever form they come, a
After all this, even if people especiallywanna smoke, they can go into an air tight room smoke all they want, not get married, and even if they do, not procreate. Apparently, its not tough for the nicotine in you to enter your baby. I am ranting. But Guess that happens when you go so close to people who are living death.
Now I see why Dr. Shanta of Cancer Institute got the Ramon Magsasay. She should have been given the highest honour ages ago. And all those who have done and are doing significant work in the field of palliative care. Palliative care is the care of cancer patients, to give simple definition.
There are people, who work with patients on a regular basis and find out how positive they are towards life and how they live the moments.
And now what do WE need to learn to live the moments and live our life well? I guess we all can do some good to humanity, if we can just stay off certain practices which are totally unnecessary. And it would be good if the realization came, before we lose someone close to us, and maybe someone who is most important to most of us - OURSELVES. And this is when I feel that cigarettes should be taken out of the market.
This may not have been a very well worded post, but this has been a pouring out of sorts. Maybe I would wish I had written it better.
If this is not clear enough, maybe each of us needs to visit a Cancer Hospice closest to us. To realize that we are God damn lucky, that we are still in one piece, hale and hearty, and that we can make whatever choices and go ahead with it, and more than anything else, to show people who are suffering from cancer that we care.