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Radhika (Kidney Cancer Caregiver): Cancer Brought Me Closer To My Mom

Radhika (Kidney Cancer Caregiver): Cancer Brought Me Closer To My Mom

Cancer brought me closer to my mom

My mother's tryst with cancer began 7 years ago when she was first diagnosed with stage 3 renal carcinoma, more commonly known as kidney cancer. Her symptoms appeared very late, which allowed the cancer to advance significantly. She was mostly healthy until one day there was blood in her urine, and blood all over the floor—that's when we knew something was seriously wrong.

After her diagnosis in 2013, she had to undergo immediate surgery to remove one of her kidneys and some lymph nodes. The recovery was gradual, but my mother persevered and was relatively okay for five years thereafter. However, in early 2018, she wasn't feeling well; she had a persistent cold coupled with breathing trouble. We visited the doctor, assuming it was probably just seasonal flu, but her X-rays showed troubling dark spots on her lung. A biopsy revealed that her cancer had relapsed, and this time it had metastasized to six places in her body, including her liver, adrenal gland, brain, and several other parts. The news was devastating for me and everyone in the family, but for my mom, it felt like a death sentence. In her worldview, everyone who gets cancer eventually dies. But I refused to accept that. Since 2018, I have channeled all my energy into helping her get better.

So far, this approach has worked. On the medical front, her oral chemotherapy has been effective in containing her cancer. However, the side effects are harsh; skin changes have altered her complexion, and she has lost all sense of taste—everything tastes bitter. These side effects, along with constant physical discomfort, take a heavy toll on her. There are nights when my mother just wakes up in pain, and no medicine seems to help. During these times, I use Reiki to heal her, having learned it specifically to help her feel better.

I also read to her, much like one would read to a child. I read stories of other cancer survivors to motivate her. Recently, I read Yuvraj Singh's autobiography to her. I continually search for such motivational stories and books. Reading is pretty much the only thing that keeps us both going.

My mother's battle with cancer is ongoing; it's a cruel disease that drains people mentally and financially. Nobody wants their loved ones to suffer like this. But her cancer has taught me a lot, including never to take things in life for granted. Every time I see her suffer from the side effects of chemo, I wonder how many of us ever thank God for something as simple as our sense of taste—a blessing we seldom consider, yet must appreciate. Cancer has taught me to value every little thing in my body and to cherish life as our most precious gift.

Some days it's hard to find the silver lining. But on other days, I realize that this disease has brought me closer to my mother in ways I could never have imagined. Today, she depends on me for almost everything, and I wouldn't have it any other way. She is my mother, and I can't imagine my world without her. Despite the struggle, she has me, and I have her.

Radhika's mother, Madhu, now 64, is still undergoing oral chemotherapy treatment and hopes to beat cancer for the second time.

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