Ovi -
we cover every issue
Visit Ovi bookshop - Free eBooks  
Ovi Bookshop - Free Ebook
Ovi Greece
Ovi Language
Ovi on Facebook
WordsPlease - Inspiring the young to learn
Tony Zuvela - Cartoons, Illustrations
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
BBC News :   - 
iBite :   - 
My Cancer and The Others
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-02-04 09:24:41
Print - Comment - Send to a Friend - More from this Author
DeliciousRedditFacebookDigg! StumbleUpon

If I'd written about World Cancer Day a few years ago it would have been quite different from my thoughts today and I would have definitely focused more upon the stats and the warnings. I would definitely have overlooked the human part, but now I know better because I was diagnosed with cancer.

There were all the warnings by the book, but I always had something else to do than checking with a doctor; a favourite excuse is too busy… no time at the moment. It took twelve hours in real pain, an ambulance and twenty-four hours in the emergency room of a hospital to face my new situation - be careful, I said face my situation not deal with it. What followed is pretty predictable; I left myself in the hands and the knowledge of the doctors.

My generation grew up in the times when nobody ever said the word ‘cancer’, when somebody died from cancer it was "it hit him/her" or it was "that" and that "that" was taking mythic dimensions; it was the darkest side of evil itself and if "that" found you there was no way out, no escape from death. I have a very vivid memory from my early youth when a neighbour woman was hit by "that". When she was out on her balcony everybody was taking this characteristically sad face, pointing at her and saying quietly, “Poor girl, who knows for how long "that" will let her live" - the poor woman soon died leaving behind two young children, something that made "that" even more hateful in my neighbourhood.

However, I now live in the early 21st century and, as I mentioned before, I have great faith in science, especially medical science. Doctors and medications, over the last few decades, have found their way through cancer and they make miracles, especially in the early stages of cancer treatment, such as mine; it is also good that doctors take care to inform the public of their new discoveries. I have to admit from the very beginning of my adventure I felt safe and somehow reassured and comfortable. At the same time my wife and I have no superstitions, so we felt it proper not to hide my situation from family and friends, talk openly about it in a sense to adjure "that" and we did so from the very beginning. This helped me to start dealing with it.

A few days after my departure from hospital and having set the first series of tests and preparations for the first treatments in motion we had an early evening dinner with very close friends and, as usual, my three-year-old daughter monopolized our entertainment. During dinner and afterwards I had the feeling that something was not right, something was missing, but it wasn't until our friends left that I had the chance to rethink about what had happened.

This was the first of a series of similar incidents. Part of the ceremony when friends come to dinner is sharing news about friends and family, and the news is not always good. There is a variety between good and bad, and sometimes it can be …spicy; well, that evening the whole world was a happy clean world with everybody living as though in a fairytale. Suddenly I realized that "that" had invaded my life uninvited via the back door.

For weeks and months, even at this very minute, everybody we meet avoids talking to me about anything that would bring bad thoughts, including illnesses, accidents or any kind of negative news ignoring that it would make me more suspicious about what is going on around me and sometimes makes me wonder if I am delusional about my situation: I mean, I look worse than I feel. On top of that, living abroad and far from close family and friends made things worse; I always keep in touch with my family and friends through mail or telephone, yet after my diagnosis it seemed that these occasional monthly telephone calls became nearly daily with me spending most of my time on the phone talking about the good weather and how wonderful everything is. Suddenly, despite all the effort from family and friends, I started getting depressed, distant and isolated.

In their huge effort to cheer me up they had managed to isolate me from real life, put me away in a clean place where nothing is wrong and everybody is healthy and happy, while every day I still had to be with doctors and other patients at different stages of cancer, giving a fight for my life - how ironic and schizophrenic. They had missed the point, what I really needed was to feel that in my every day life everything is as usual and life goes on.

Cancer is like a war with many battles, both small and big, even some side battles that have nothing to do with cancer itself. I have won most of these battles and the war is not over yet, but I’m sure I’m winning. The best ally in this battle is good psychology and the will to win; this comes by feeling that the world around you hasn’t changed and that every day life hasn’t isolated you placing you inside a safe plastic bubble. While I should totally focus on my battle I spent too much time thinking about what is really going on and all because suddenly everybody around me saw "that" and they tried hard to hide it from me.

February 4th is World Cancer Day and there are over 25 million people living with cancer; year after year the number of people who die from cancer decreases, mainly because of early diagnosis and treatment in the early stages. If and when cancer comes, please remember to avoid being overprotective to the patient because, without wanting it, you isolate them and that’s the last thing they need and want. They want to feel that they are not alone and putting them in that bubble manages exactly the opposite. Give them strength by standing beside them without isolating them from their life.

First published in Agenda magazine

Print - Comment - Send to a Friend - More from this Author

Get it off your chest
 (comments policy)

Clint2008-02-04 11:31:13
Cancer's a blight that until it touches your life you do not realise its full extent and how it also affects those close to you. We have had two close relatives diagnosed with it in recent years and both dealt with it in completely different ways and both survived. It was both surprising and disappointing to see how various friends and family reacted. Some would visit regularly and show complete support others would be silent and stay away almost convincing themselves that it didn't exist. Like it or not Thanos writing this article took great courage and I liken it to the young girl who wrote in Ovi about her rape. My lady and I still wish you well even if it does put you in a bubble. If it helps at all dispite this I still think you're an old git!

Asa2008-02-04 12:49:06
I totally agree, Clint... Thanos is an old git!!!

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-04 16:25:02
Thanks for bravely sharing the pain Thanos. Indeed, psychologically speaking sharing the pain all around is perhaps the first step to recovery. Paradoxically vulnerability provides the needed inner resources. Cancer touched me indirectly but very closely when some four years ago my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo three operations. While it was devastating for my wife, myself and my daughters, it was also a time to come closer together as a family and go beyond inanities and banalities in our daily conversations; time to reflect on the human condition and consider the best way to meet it head on. That sharing and the conversations and the reflections worked just fine since my wife pulled through with her undaunted spirit and has been in full recovery since. I sincerely hope that this sharing of my own close experience with cancer and its silver lining, so to speak, helps a bit and that you too may pull through.

Alexandra Pereira2008-02-05 02:16:01
I can understand you completely Thanos, sometimes people who care are so afraid to "worry", "sadden" or "irritate" one that they paint the whole world in pink and that picture is obviously fake - something which can truly worry, sadden and/or irritate one!! :) That happens just because people around sometimes don't know very well how to deal with the situation in the beginning, they try to overprotect you and they commit mistakes - that's why the fact you say how you feel is so courageous and important, it will allow them to adjust to reality, realize the mistakes and learn a brave lesson with you :):)

© Copyright CHAMELEON PROJECT Tmi 2005-2008  -  Sitemap  -  Add to favourites  -  Link to Ovi
Privacy Policy  -  Contact  -  RSS Feeds  -  Search  -  Submissions  -  Subscribe  -  About Ovi