This has been a long journey of cancer since the past two and a half years .
I’ve been through 2 cycles of chemotherapy, one cycle of radiation and immunotherapy after which my doctor in Mumbai shared that he had done his best. Nothing more could be done in Mumbai and I was given just 3-6 months to live.
He recommended Car-T Cell therapy which is currently the newest treatment available in UK.
We were told this in November 2020.
Now here is where the hand of God intervened in my life. My son Ralph sent us his details from London , so we could apply for dependency visa. In a matter of a few weeks we were granted this visa and our flight was arranged by our children to fly into UK on the 3rd December.
This was a sudden departure and left us no time to even think of any concerns of leaving home .
Our time was just right to celebrate Christmas with our children in UK.
In Scotland, we were given a warm welcome by the leader of the Community of the Risen Lord. A few of our friends too reconnected with us and assured us of prayers.
In January I was given a call by NHS for consultation with the doctor . That was a scary meeting , when I was told the risks involved with the new treatment. However I chose to go ahead , as this was the final recourse .
In February my T- cells were taken for re-engineering and within two weeks I was admitted for 3 weeks at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital when my T-cells were re-administered into my blood stream .
Thanks to God , I did not suffer any major side effects except for a loss of appetite, for a short time. The care given by the team of doctors and nursing staff was outstanding . Even the food provided was good .
I must share , that throughout my two years of cancer treatment, I had lost count of the number of Covid tests and blood tests done . Also petscans , biopsy, the Hickman line and the PICC line , were things I just accepted.
After 3 months my petscan showed that most areas were clear of cancer except a few remained . Then by end May 2021 these also cleared up ; however a small area in the lower back still glowed in the petscan .
So a biopsy was done and on 17th June 2021 , I was finally given an all clear report .
There was a moment of concern when I caught a cough and cold virus from my grandchildren . This got aggravated and led to me being hospitalised . Antibiotic drips were administered and I’ve recovered .
Looking back , I’m amazed at the events which led to my cure from cancer .
This does not mean my life here on earth is endless, but to appreciate the new lease of life God has given me .
He is the living God who cares , loves and heals . He is my greatest treasure . I know that I can now suffer the loss of everything here, in the knowledge that God is always present to hold and care for me .
I’m extremely grateful to all my family , friends and community members, my priest friends and Brothers of the Servants of the Word who have been praying for me and reaching out to me in so many ways.
A special thanks to members from the Sword of the Spirit Communities worldwide , who have been praying for me . My batch mates from college too have been encouraging and offering their prayers .
I’m grateful to my children Karen, Annalize, Ralph and Larissa for all their help. My daughter Karen and her husband Tommy, have been hosting Anjean and I in Scotland . They have been with me through all the visits and checkups at the hospital . Anjean has been my rock , always praying for me .
What is my purpose in life ?
…..importantly to accept all that God sends into my life and sharing the suffering with Jesus who can continue his work of redemption as only he can , through each of us .
…… to give glory to God in all that I do , accepting his will at all times. May his name be praised for evermore.
This struck me when I got an insightful comment on my blog ‘Captain or Manager’ by Michele of ‘Rabbitpatch Diary’ an avid blogger who left me with this comment “Thankfully this world is big enough for all of us to shine. “ The essay was on who makes a better leader the captain of a football team or it’s manager.
So striving to be a better version of oneself , rather than comparing oneself with others is a big step in being a light for the pathways of life . A light at home , or outdoors in the dark can shed light to all . A life lived well can be an example of good light, always ready to reach out and mentor the younger people . Can I pass on to others what I receive ?
Light has an identity of its very own , always shining out . However I need be to be aware of self glorification, which can be detrimental, and that very light loses its lustre.
How about ‘salt’ ? It cannot be seen. Yet, a lack of it in food is noticeable. There is a tastelessness. The identity of salt is to give taste . If salt cannot provide taste it is useless .
Unlike light , if salt does its job well , there are no accolades. Rather it loses itself completely .
This is service at its very best …a dying to self for another .
An example of this is where a mother can play the role so effectively as children grow up , caring at every stage … no wonder when they become adults , mothers are remembered the most . Do mothers get awards ?
We are all blessed with various talents . How we use them is important , so we can be salt or light in this world .
We pray for that grace, to bring out the best of the talents bestowed us by the Lord , to become the best version of ourselves.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” ( Matthew 5:13)
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
In a democracy one looks forward to a fair poll . Since the days of the ballot paper vote, the EVM ( Electoral Voters Machine) is the recent development. On the face of it , this may seem a good way of voting . It is quick and immediately sends the vote to the respective candidate , once the voter presses the button of a particular candidate .
Have you heard of the EVM being misused or even of defective machines . There have been reports that in such cases , whatever button is pressed for voting a specific candidate , the vote does not go to that candidate, but elsewhere to another candidate through manipulation of the machine or through a defect.
Political parties have been raising their voices to revert back to the traditional ballot paper.
This may be a better option and give less chances for any fraud.
You may be aware of booth capturing by goons who deprive the people of their fair vote .
There have been cases , shown on video , in a certain country , where inspite of having ballot paper vote , the ballot boxes were being stuffed with fake votes for a particular party . No wonder these dubious means of conducting elections ensures a particular party or person continues in office .
What constitutes a fair election ? Will we see the days of honesty being given priority .
Will we see democracy being replaced by a dictator or fascist government?
One of the most disturbing developments is to see elected candidates being bought over by the party in power.
Whom do we blame the giver or the receiver ?
What is your opinion of what constitutes a fair poll ?
As my head touched the grass , my mind drifted into dreams of the past .
I remember Kahlil Gibran quoting that homes caged the dreams of people who needed to be free . In the midst of comforts they lost their freedom to experience nature .
The touch of grass , the cottony clouds above against the backdrop of the azure sky .
Memories go back to an evening near the Daal Lake . The grass had a golden hue and the waters of the lake a shimmering silver with the sun setting gradually . That was a sublime moment .
Then I remember the time a few of my friends went camping in the hills . We carried some food and spent overnight at that spot. A visit of a snake interrupted the quiet night and we had a restless night after that.
Memories to the University Stadium where I trained on the racing tracks . Victories in the 1500 meters race shine out from that time warp. Specially taking the lead before the last lap with a final burst of speed to leave the others far behind .
We played hockey matches at the centre of the grounds . Captaincy gave me the buoyancy to lead the college team with determination. We played the best team those days … and limited them to just a 2-0 victory . We defended so well that our skillful opponents could not easily penetrate our defence , to increase their score.
A highlight of one match was to avenge a rough tackle on my team mate . I waited for an opportune moment and swung my stick onto the Center forward’s leg instead of the ball . Obviously I was penalised . To top it all , that opponent came to deal with me aggressively after the match.
However the opponent captain was known to me and intervened to settle the matter amicably .
Another memory comes back while on a 3 day camp with youth . We trudged up a hill . On reaching the top we got an amazing picture taken of several youth jumping into the sky together.
The most memorable of all was the time I visited London for my daughter’s convocation. At her celebratory party , I sang my favorite song ‘Geeen green grass of home ‘ tweaking the words to honour her.
The memories of my home still linger as in time I’ve moved on to new events , places and find that they become memories too!
A lot has been said about ‘burnout’. To me it is a gradual exhaustion of both our mental and physical condition ?
This had taken a toll on my entire being . I got so caught up with meeting deadlines, that I realized my life line was in jeopardy . Will I burn out ?
Who will understand this.
I need to reflect on this myself. Which means to slow down. Awareness of the present is so important.Who has been my anchor if not my Saviour Jesus Christ when passing through troubled waters . Awareness of his presence is even more important.
‘Should you pass through the sea, I will be with you ; or through rivers, they will not swallow you up. Should you walk through fire, you will not be scorched and the flames will not burn you.’ (Isaiah 43:2 )
He has seen me through every challenge. As a student through the difficult days of academic and exam stress, and failed relationships.
Then in the work place to get along with my colleagues , bosses and subordinates.
Along with these challenges , health factors have come in through physical and emotional breakdowns and to a more serious illness like cancer.
There have been times of great success too ! He has literally lifted me from the ashes to high places.
Jesus has been my fortress and tower to run to in times of distress . He gives strength, courage , grace and most importantly his awesome love.
I cherish the people he sent into my life. From family to friends and doctors to even those who have been severe critics . All had a role to shape me into the person I am now.
What is my secret ?
It is to abide in Jesus . Without him I am nothing . He makes it clear when he says
‘I am the vine and you are the branches . Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing .
Anyone who does not remain in me is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire and they are burnt. (John 15:5,6)
To remain in him , I need to spend time with him in prayer, read scripture and frequent the sacraments .
Many today say “ I do not have time.”
In today’s situation , can the same be said ?
If a person loses his job , I’m sure he will have enough time on his hands . What happens when severe illness strikes?
So why wait for a dire situation to arise ?
Why not start praying daily ; to seek the Lord and be saved ?
What does a young man do at times when the pandemic is prevalent.
Sam looked out of his window facing the road at Bandra. He is tall , very observant and a computer wizard . At heart he is compassionate.
He saw a very dejected looking man plodding past his home, at the end of the day . He seemed tired. Eyes were intense and lips red from chewing Paan . He was a bit grey, heavy set, with a drooping moustache.
Sam guessed the man needed help.
He hurried out to meet this man
“Where are you going ? Can I help you?
“Oh , I don’t know where ; I’ve lost hope “replied the man
“What is your name? Why are you not wearing your mask,” ( for protection during the Covid pandemic)
He quickly pulled out his mask and then replied :
“ My name is Mohan. I worked as a manual labourer at a godown, in Sion. Now there is no work , what can I do.”
Sam asked him a few questions about his work in the current pandemic . This triggered a flood of responses .
“Due to the restrictions most constructions have stopped. So how will there be any work? “
“Will you return to your village? “ enquired Sam
“I am worried as there are limited trains and many people like me ( migrant workers) are returning to their homes in the villages . “ said Mohan
“Do you have a place to stay? “
“Only for one week more , as I don’t have money to pay rent for the next month.”
“How about your food?”
“I cook just Dal /Rotis and veg , what is available, just one meal a day
It then struck Sam to direct Mohan to food counters set up outside the church nearby.
“Mohan, please go to St. Peter’s Church and you will meet some people who will help you.”
“Also Mohan , I will help you in booking a ticket to go home at your village. But please take care and wear your mask ok?”
Mohan’s entire demeanour changed . Hope returned , with a simple gesture of compassion from Sam .
How can I help others during these times of trial ?
If you see your brother standing by the road
With a heavy load …..
Try a little kindness ( song by Glen Campbell)
Yes at St Peter’s Church , like many others , volunteers are doing yeoman service in providing food packets to many who are in need .
( Paan : is chewed after a meal or even at anytime . It is made of betel nut , chuna : slaked lime and red katha paste : from acacia tree and wrapped in betel leaf )
So what I say , should be for the good of listeners.
Do I speak to build up or destroy ?
Can I be an instrument to build unity ? Which is better? To spew venom or speak words of wisdom .
How will I be aware of my words? A good way will be to reflect either at the end of the first half of day or at the day’s end.
Surely I will know I have spoken well, and can note that as the highlight of the day.
Recalling poor words , will help me to avoid that in the future .
How do I speak with wisdom .
Listening will help a lot. One gets a good understanding of the context of things said or unsaid. An analysis of the conversation in progress , helps to give a good response .
Spending time in quiet meditation and prayer goes a long way. Wisdom comes from above. It’s a gift of God .
Am I boring? Do I talk too much ? I think many including me will not realise this .
A better way is to take interest in others ; in their successes , struggles , worries and their joys too. Giving the other person a chance to speak helps to generate a good exchange of speaking and listening .
When I write , Is it the same ? Here lies the difference. Unless I get feedback on what I write , there will be no exchange of thoughts from my dear reader .
The beauty of writing , though , is that it’s an invitation to come on to my plain of thought.