Life Changing Cancer

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In January 2020, I was diagnosed with lung cancer, and started chemotherapy and radiation therapy for my spine metastasis. It was shocking that a simple back pain could manifest into this, and to also learn that I have an autoimmune disease, scleroderma. I was devastated. It took days, months actually, to accept the fact, especially as a non-smoker and non-drinker.

I, always a person who plans for the future, had no clue how tomorrow would be. Things turned 180 degrees for me: I went from a busy architect to cancer patient. Every single day I had terrible pain. I had to let go of my work and be dependent on my caregivers.

I asked, Why me? I believe I haven’t done anything wrong in a relationship, friendship or work.

It was just the matter of changing perspective…  well good karma reflects good in life exactly at the moment you need it the most. 

I was unlucky to have this disease, but most lucky to be surrounded by people who loved me so much that they cannot take even 0.1% chance of anything happening to me. Everyone helped me in their own way: my parents took care of me, my husband made sure everything I needed was there, some made me laugh, gave me courage, advised me on food habits, and some shared their stories. My oncologist was as cool as ice; he never scared me with my condition, always greeting me with a high five or fist bump.

As an architect, I was equipped to manage timelines. Now, pain, fatigue, stomach issues, skin rashes and all sorts of side effects were what I managed throughout the day. Just letting go was my daily practice… one thing I learned is that it’s our imagination that makes us sad more than the reality…

The pain of knowing my hair would fall off with the treatment made me disheartened… but when it actually did, I felt nothing… it was all fine as long as my health would improve.

I gave much more attention to what I ate. I tried all the superfoods and really saw the difference. I enjoyed healthier options for tasty foods, cut down sugar, added fresh  and dry fruits to my diet. Being a Vegetarian and from an Indian family, all I enjoyed was fresh home-cooked food. I used home remedies to manage certain side effects.

People complimented me for looking much younger than before. Fighting cancer gave me a new life, in the way I eat and the way I think. It gave me a goal to help the community and patients through my work. I miss my work but am in the process of gaining all the energy to restart it.

I learned the key to happiness is little moments in life which we take for granted. Never miss a chance to celebrate, however silly things are. Embrace all your emotions, don’t let them be inside. Have faith in God, prayers are powerful. I said my prayers through my paintings. And have faith in you and be the best version of yourself.

By Urmi Zinzuvadia Shah