I am a counselor by profession and a dance movement therapist too. I started working for Access Life NGO, where there are kids going through Cancer Treatment. I am basically from Nagpur and shifted to Mumbai four years back. In the first year, I met Ankit, who is the Founder of Access Life NGO. Since I had just finished my master's and was looking for opportunities, I started working with the kids. I have been with the kids for the last two years, and my heart goes out to kids fighting bravely with cancer.
I was trying to find a job in Mumbai, and one of my friends asked me to visit the NGO and ask them whether I can do counseling there, and they agreed. I think the universe just wanted me to serve kids somehow, and I just got the right opportunity at the right time.
Both my grandfather and my cousin had cancer. My cousin was just four years old when she was diagnosed with eye cancer. I was very close to her. Initially, her one eye was removed because of cancer, so she could partially see. The cancer had spread to both the eyes, so we had to remove both her eyes. She was just four, and on October 28, she left the world. My grandmother used to take care of her a lot. I was so young when this happened.
My grandfather had Prostate Cancer. He would complain of Pain in the abdomen. He didn't have to go through a lot. He just got diagnosed and passed away after two days of diagnosis, so we are grateful that he didn't had to endure much Pain.
Experience with kids
I was very young when my cousin got diagnosed with cancer, and I didn't know then that I would be serving kids who are fighting cancer in my future. Whenever I see a kid, I get reminded of my sister.
I have been using different mediums like art, counseling, painting, fun games, dance movements and sometimes just normal stories to motivate kids.
I always used to play games with them. I always used to ask them their wishes, and they always had a big list of what they want to do after they get free from cancer. So via games, I used to make them understand that we have certain boundaries that we cannot cross, and when we get recovered, only then can we cross those boundaries.
I would give them metaphorical examples and would also do art therapy with them. I would give them paper and colors, and we would have themes that we need to make things we want to do in life, and the story that would come up with would be so beautiful. Kids always inspire a lot; they are just infecting joy everywhere.
We had days when kids would share what they are going through, and I would assure them that I would not share that with anyone. One of the kids I started my first counseling sessions with said that she wanted to become an IPS officer and shared every step that she had planned for her future. After a few years, I got to know that she had expired. I spoke to her mother later.
Learnings from kids
I learned to be patient. We make our lives very complicated, but kids made me realize that we can make our lives simpler. I feel that I was not doing anything for the kids; the kids were doing everything for me.
I am a person terrified of injections, and I think it got better because of these kids. We visit them every Monday, and one day while we had storytelling, the kids told me that injections are their best friends now because they have got so immune to injections. They all told me various stories about how they overcame their fears.
I have learned a lot of things from kids, and they are family to me now. When I serve these kids, I take some relaxation that even though I couldn't do much for my cousin, I could serve other kids. And these kids often don't need much; they just need your time and love.
Kids also taught me a lot of acceptance about our own self. They don't compare themselves with each other; they don't have any barriers to treating each other.
My life has changed a lot since I started counseling kids. Accepting myself the way I am is one of the biggest lessons I learned from kids. I used to feel inferior, but I think being with kids and experiencing their company made me realize that I am good the way I am.
Counseling for Caregivers
I would counsel the parents as well. Counseling the parents is quite challenging because they question themselves where they went wrong that their kid got cancer.
Caregivers also taught me a lot. Even after what they are going through, they never lose hope. They always have faith. I make parents understand that it's not their fault that their kid got cancer. I listen to them because I believe that listening is very important. I would ask them specific questions, and they eventually realize that it's not their fault.
Take care of yourself because I feel that our own cup should be filled before we go and help others. Please don't assume that it's our fault for whatever has happened, so just be positive and feel free to reach out to anyone to express your feelings. Do more of anything that you like.