I wonder if I’m not dying tomorrow. Death is hanging right at my shoulder. It is peeping at me now and then, as if to ask me if I’m ready and it is so disappointing to say that I’m not. Who is?
And now, I wonder at the countless number of people I know die of cancer. The first time I got kicked by such news was when I heard that one of my classmates’ girlfriend was diagnosed leukemia and despite everything the hospital did, she died. She was undergoing her engineering course.
Then I heard of someone I called ‘Ata’ die of the same disease. He was a teacher and he had just about started a family. He was referred to Kolkata for surgery but the disease, deadly as it is feared -- it takes life out of you mercilessly. He died before I could go and see him. The fact that he died left in me a deep hole. It was as if I could not cure from not being able to really grasp the truth that, in fact, he died and he was no more.
Then came so many news in between, of that person, of this person dying of cancer. A 49 year old woman from my village, related to me as well dies of cervical cancer. Then, another woman, related to me again, (in fact a close relative) dies of cancer again.
Before all these news could sink in me and I could accept the reality of cancer being common hear of this disease taking away another of my relatives. This time, it is a person I grew up seeing around. He is my second cousin (from father’s side). I remember growing up witnessing the good relationship my father and his father shared. And for this reason, I feel, I should do whatever I can to help them. My two elder brothers are his friends. So they are closer to him than I am. He is 48 and has two sons. A young beautiful wife and two wonderful sons. And now, he being diagnosed cancer? I’m told he had colon cancer and had spread to liver as well – and so there was nothing hospital can do. He was soon discharged.
Today, it is exactly 3 weeks that he had been referred here from Mongar Hospital. But how sad is it that the disease really did not know that he should have been spared! Early morning I hear that he passed away.
I knew he was going to die. But even when you knew it, it isn’t easy to say, oh yes, I knew he was going to die. I wonder what is causing cancer. I’m sure so many people in other countries are dying of this disease too but what I cannot believe is that I grew up learning or hearing that this is a rare disease. But look at me alone seeing so many people die of this disease! How rare is it?
If you want to know more, yes, my husband’s uncle died of throat cancer last year. And another uncle of his is lying in bed now, the liver cancer eating him away. It is so suffocating to see a person lie in bed, hoping that he will be able to resume normal activities, while the rest of the people know that he is dying. And now, this disease, cancer, isn’t there a way people could suspect it before it has spread over to other organs and hospital say, ‘it has come to the last stage and there is nothing we can do?” Does its symptoms really manifest only in the very last minute?
There ought to be something we can do.