Cancer Made Her Stronger
The story of an 82-year old breast cancer survivor who shows that only way to survive cancer is to not give it a thought.By Rosy Jose
Sivakasi (also known as India’s fireworks capital) is a small town in Tamil Nadu. In a hamlet here lives a rather formidable woman. Don’t let her greys deceive you, for what she lacks in physical strength she makes up for with the mental acuity of a child. Armed with a charming smile and animated face, she will ensure time will pass by in a flicker when you are talking to her. At 82, after a decade of cancer treatment, P N Kamala is proud to call herself a breast cancer survivor.
“Take Control Of Your Life And Health. Do Regular Self-Examination And Health Check-Ups. If You Have Cancer, Be Strong And Make Sure It Is A Passing Tribulation That Only Makes You Stronger.”P N Kamala, Breast cancer survivor and author
Kamala has led quite a blessed life. This mother of three, grandmother of six and great grandmother of six, is proud to have a loving and large family. With wonderful friends and a fulfilling career as a professor, Kamala has never known been one to look back. She always loved writing and between her job and duties towards her family, she was always quite busy. Whenever she garnered some free time, she would pen her thoughts. From these random musings emerged nine books with topics ranging from feminism to literary critiques and biographies.
After retirement, she decided to pursue her hobby and live a quiet and peaceful life. She used to enjoy telling stories to her grandchildren. “Paatti(grandmother), no one can tell a story as you do. With all your different faces, you make it so entertaining,” her grandchildren would tell her. She was truly peaceful and content. But fate had other plans. One day in 2005, Kamala felt quite uneasy and her chest felt very heavy. Manoharan, Kamala’s son, coaxed her to go to the doctor and get a checkup done. The doctor diagnosed it as breast cancer, and the world around her shattered. She assumed she had only three more months to live and started preparing her will. She was in a complete state of despair.
Kamala has ensured both her literary pieces follow simple language construction, so that it can be read and understood by everyone. She also hands it out to the audience wherever she visits, so that people can gain from her experience and trauma.
Her daughter-in-law, Seetha, could not bear to see Kamala suffer like this. The vivacious mother that she had known was counting her days to death. Seetha decided to do something about it and took control of Kamala’s treatment and care. The treatment was manifold and needed constant care and monitoring. Manoharan and Seetha made sure their Amma (mother), was surrounded by a positive environment with strong emotional support. They coaxed their mother to immerse herself in writing. “If it had not been for my children, I would have lost myself in the whirlwind that is cancer,” says Kamala, reminiscing about her past.
Her writing provided her with much-needed distraction during her treatment and recuperation. She wrote two books during this time which were subsequently translated in English. One of the books is titled Putchi Piranda Boobalam (Songs of dawn born out of Cancer), which is a collection of poems on cancer. The second book is titled Rojavukku (To my beloved Rose), which is a collection of five letters to an imaginary friend Rose on how to deal with cancer. It essentially captures Kamala’s struggle and the methods she used to triumph over cancer. Kamala has ensured both her literary pieces follow simple language construction so that it can be read and understood by everyone. She also hands it out to the audience wherever she visits, so that people can gain from her experience and trauma.
Today Kamala keeps herself busy attending literary conferences and delivering talks on topical issues at various places in India. She is an active member of the cancer support group at local hospitals. She also won the third edition of SelfV Survivor Stories launched by Pink Hope Cancer Patient Support group and HCG – The Specialist in Cancer Care. Her message to all women is simple: “Take control of your life and health. Do regular self-examination and health check-ups. If you have cancer, be strong and make sure it is a passing tribulation that only makes you stronger.”