I had not seen her for some time. I was wondering, if they weren’t around anymore. I saw her kids once in a while though. After a long gap, I saw her once in the balcony and was taken aback by what I saw. She was wearing a scarf on her head. I couldn’t help myself asking, “What happened? Why a scarf?”. Pat came her response across the balcony “I have no hair”.
I realized how foolish I had been. Later when we got talking she shrugged it off, saying she has got used to it.
It is not unusual that we come across a brave woman, but this one had an unbelievable optimism about her. Vibha Kunzru Atal, a mother of a eight years old girl and a five years old boy, has a grit of steel. She has not let her disease, multiple myeloma, the cancer of the bone marrow, affect her cheerful core. She is a survivor, a winner, a conqueror in the true spirit!
The back pain was persistent over for two years now and as we all often tend to neglect those little everyday tantrums that our bodies throw at us, she too did the same. The underlying problem lay undiagnosed for a long time, until the pain took a turn for the worse. That’s when she got an X-ray and an MRI done. The back bone showed some lesions, something was not right. The next steps confirmed the worst.
It was difficult to miss her spirit, when I asked her this question. Unshakably optimistic, she said, “I had no option but “TO LIVE for my kids”.
Of the firm belief that any kind of panic or negative vibes would affect her kids adversely, she did not let the reality affect her temperament. Resolute to keep her kids untouched by the emotional upheaval, she explained them that mamma had a backache and needed to stay in the hospital to get well, preparing herself for the five months of chemotherapy cycles that lay ahead.
The conviction of the mother in her far outweighed the havoc that cancer caused in her body!
Her husband, a calm, grounded man and a protective father, played an unwavering emotional anchor to her. Also being a doctor with the army, he made sure the right kind of treatment was given to her at all times. The biggest blessing was her loving family, and she knew that her kids were in safe hands while she was at the hospital.
In her own words, “It was very easy to let the disease overwhelm me and think why did it happen to me? But it would have served no purpose to anybody.” As difficult as it may sound, her optimism and faith helped her sail through. Even medical science proves that thinking positively releases hormones that accelerate one’s recovery.
Her friends and family were in a state of shock when they came to know about this. She witnessed many a breakdown during those days. But, crying was never her way of dealing with things.
She strongly recommends the presence of friends in one’s life to keep oneself sane. She continued meeting her friends and going out with them even after the diagnosis, ate something nice once in a while and always pumped up her ‘happy’ hormones, which comes to her naturally.
Looking at her, it doesn’t seem happiness is far-fetched. In fact, it’s probably all that we need to keep going.
An equally important message in today’s times is to undergo regular health checkups to catch any sign of red at the root.
Meeting her has led me to believe that cancer is just a state of life, it can’t defy life itself.
My salute to Vibha, the fighter.
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