All our Healing Circle Talks begin with us entering a zone of healing with a moment of silence. The foundation of these sessions is kindness and respect. It is a sacred space built upon compassion where everyone is treated with honour. All the stories are held confidential, and we guide each other with the power of silence.
Celebrated author Neelam Kumar, who has conquered cancer twice, has motivated people with her positive spirit. Right from the moniker of a ‘piece of wood sitting on a wood’ to becoming a Best-Selling Author with massively popular books on cancer, she has fulfilled her dreams and touched the hearts of countless people.
She dedicates this session to all the stricken, struggling, and fallen. She also salutes everyone who has ever gone through chemo. In her words, “I speak with experienced Pain and utter humility. My story isn’t a spectacular one. It is just like so many other stories. I am grateful to ZenOnco.io’s founders, Dimple and Kishan, for this opportunity.”
Monochrome to Hues – The Palette of Life
“Back in 1996, when I was detected with cancer, I asked myself, ‘Why me?’ I associate that period of Grief and shock with the colour black. It was one of the darkest phases of my life. I was a young woman deeply in love with my husband. One fine day, the love of my life fell dead. The Grief was so immense that I was trembling with the kids clutching me.
I had to re-negotiate with society, the people around me, and the world. As if the trauma of single parenting was not enough, I broke down financially.
When I had reared my kids and transitioned career-wise from a poor young widow into a successful officer at Bokaro Steel Plant, cancer struck again. But it was 2013, and things were different this time. I was like, ‘Try Me’. I associate this phase with bright colours.
Making it up for your Better Half:
Nobody thinks of single mothers who undertake both roles. Indian society views everything under the sun, single mothers included. I was playing both a father’s and mother’s role. I was bungling it all up. People keep on saying things. Remain calm. The world has come to become a frightening place. The biggest tool one can have to face this world is emotional resilience. Create a strong inner self and come what may, you will sail through the most challenging times.
The Power of Buddha:
Buddhism says that you can transform your Karma in this lifetime. I am a globally educated woman, and I don’t think we have to surrender to something the universe has doled out. You can turn poison into medicine by chanting, “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo”. Winning is the only way forward.
While undergoing radiation, I used to chant this mantra continuously. Dr Anand, who was overlooking the entire procedure, wondered what I was murmuring. I asked him to wait until my results were out. When there were no side effects of the radiation on my face, he was baffled.
It was then that the power of the mantra was revealed to him. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo means ‘I devote myself to the mystic law of the Lotus Sutra’. It combines Sanskrit and Japanese languages and teaches us to transform our Karma for us and others too.”
Yogesh Mathuria, an austere Vegan who travelled across countries, preaching the power of the Prayer of Gratitude, exclaims, ‘When we were walking in South Africa, we had a monk who would chant non-stop for twelve hours, irrespective of whether it was day or night. People in the African continent used to scare us, saying that we would get robbed and murdered. But, because of this monk’s chanting power, nobody dared to touch us.”
The Depravity of Empathy:
Neelam Kumar says visitors who meet you don’t follow bedside etiquette. Instead, they unload their share of sympathy. Even office colleagues judged her for wearing lipstick despite being a cancer patient. There were even people who wished her Au Revoir! “People will narrate all sorts of stories. Give them cold shoulders.
Invest in yourself. Build your interior. Be invincible. Unshakable. Nobody will take that away from you.”Further, Neelam says that some visitors would blame it on her evil Karma. She said, “I earnestly request to avoid paying heed to such advice. Keep yourself strong. Walk through that dark tunnel smiling,
Dimple Parmar, the co-founder of ZenOnco.io, states that during her struggle against cancer as a caregiver, she had delved into the depths of this mantra. She has probably chanted the mantra lakhs of times.
The Buddhism family back in the United States had been sending 15 people to her house every day for prayers. The Mystical Power of Buddha works in miraculous ways. When Dimple found it challenging to travel for her husband Nitesh Prajapat, who was battling colorectal cancer, a friend from the Buddhist family appeared out of nowhere and offered help.
The close-knit Buddhist family offered both spiritual and emotional support. During his last days, Nitesh went through Daisaku Ikeda’s ‘Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth and Death’, which changed his outlook towards life forever.
Being a Caregiver
“Every individual and patient’,s physical, mental, and spiritual need is different. We can learn from others’ experiences but can’t replicate them. When cancer struck for the second time, I was looking for motivation, and there was none. Across most of the classic novels and films I came across, the cancer patient dies. Be it Tuesdays with Morrie or Anand; the story was the same.
People were only giving negativity. There were no happy books on cancer. When undergoing chemo, I asked the nurse to bring the laptop. That’s how my novel ‘To Cancer with Love – My Journey of Joy’ was created. I created an alter ego. When it was picked up as India’s first Happy Book on Cancer, my joy knew no bounds.
We are such a pessimistic nation most of the time. We need to learn how to celebrate life. We have to pass on a lot of joy to others. That was my first learning.
People’s attention span is dwindling and is very short. When I wanted to convert my story into a visual story, two stalwarts, Mr Amitabh Bachchan and Mr Ratan Tata, came forward to fund it. That book became a best-seller once again and gave me a lot of courage to fight. We have to pass on strength, happiness, and courage to people.”
Myths around Cancer:
“Most myths surrounding cancer bring you down emotionally as a patient. We celebrate women in India as goddesses who suffer silently. It is too late when they realize or even muster the courage to speak out about their ailment. A lot of people think that cancer is infectious. It is common to see village women diagnosed with cancer dumped by their husbands. Such is the social progress despite the development of science.”
The scope of emotional empowerment has hardly been discussed, so I am writing books on emotional healing and empowerment. India is on a global pandemic, yet the superstitions and myths surrounding dreaded diseases like cancer refuse to vanish. Health is still not the top priority for us.
Recently, a woman from Bihar got admitted for fourth-stage Cervical Cancer. She knew she had a lump in her breast but feared getting admitted. She revealed it only when the Pain was unbearable. Then, some over-protective husbands refuse to let their wives show their private parts to doctors.
People, in general, need to stop sensationalizing the human body. It is shameful that even easily detectable breast and Cervical Cancer go unreported. It is time that men made the health of the women in their lives a top-priority thing. Housewives need to be selfish about their health too.”
Speaking about people with suicidal tendencies, she says they should be taken to Mumbai’s TATA Memorial Hospital and shown how people fight with all their might for even one day of life. She adds, “I deal with many people as a life skills coach with turbulent backgrounds. Will people who claim to be in love with each other be able to put their love to the test under these conditions?”
Further, Neelam Kumar talks about the stereotype and prejudice surrounding cancer patients in movies. “They are always shown as tragic people who are about to die. Life after cancer becomes much more beautiful and meaningful. Many cancer patients who survive thank because they realize the value of life only after surviving cancer.
“We say that we get to live only once. Rather, we live every day and die only once.”
Winter always Leads to Spring.
“However grave your condition might be, it will have to end in a happy moment. Let strict hours pass. Embrace it Gracefully. Eventually, it will lead to a happy part of life.
I became a Life Coach after thirty years in my profession because I wanted to give back to society. I’ve been the communications chief and taking classes on emotional empowerment. Sixteen years ago, when I took emotional coaching, a whole new world opened to me. I realized how much change one person can make in your life. Right now, I am at R.N Poddar, Khar, where we prevent lots of suicide, teenage issues, and marital and emotional breakups.
You need at least one person, who might or might not be your spouse, who, without being judgmental, can hear you out. We all need someone to hold our hands while crossing that dark tunnel. It’s incredible to see how quickly people recover. Sharing and caring is a human thing. By helping other people, I get helped. It’s the other way around.”