Monday, March 19, 2007

The Pink Ribbon

Do you know what it feels like, to get up one morning and stare at your all-too-perfect life, beaming at the safety and security it represents, drinking in the glee of your anticipated victories… and then, to discover that a loved one has been living with a dreaded disease? Something that slowly gnaws at one’s being itself, until it has eaten up every fiber of it, leaving it’s victim listless and shaken

What bothers more? The fact that someone you love so much is suffering and the road is a one way with no return path… Or that you, for all the closeness you shared, somehow did not inspire in them, the confidence to open up and let you in?

To me, it was neither. (Well, actually both. But they struck with the force of a tornado only when the emergency had dulled a little).The reality of the moment was too grave to digest without philosophizing it (my favorite occupation!) but the timing was too incorrect for philosophy. So I plunged into action. But like all urgent actions that have been ignored long since, this too didn’t give me an actual solution, only temporary relief.

Okay, now… what are we talking about? The title “The Pink Ribbon” doesn’t seem to make much sense? It does. Ribbons are internationally used for causes. Red ones, say, are for AIDS awareness. Pink is the hue doused on women. Do you recall something?

The Pink Ribbon. Breast Cancer.

Breast Cancer… The beast I could cheerfully kill for invading a lovely home, shocking people into mute submission, not giving a chance to think, plan, talk, and just DO something! Except for suffer both actively and passively while the will to fight it out still envelops even though the strength fails, sometimes.

If it has taken my usual loquacious self an unbelievable one year to get to the point where I can talk about it, imagine how badly it could shake someone. From being someone who always gave hugs and sent smilie-infected personal messages (SMS), I turned into someone who wouldn’t hug as she feared that her pain would somehow carve itself into another’s heart when the chests came into contact while hugging. I gave up smilies hoping my abstinence towards smiling would be the much needed sacrifice that would somehow make her alright.

I would lie awake in bed through the dead of the night, praying hard. I re-established my relationship with God by talking to him everyday. My life and that of my whole family came to revolve around a single point: Watch over, pray, stay connected, love deeply and show it out more often. Though I am not a shy person, I had never indulged in public display of affection with so much intensity before. And I didn’t feel even a tinge of awkwardness while I did so. Despite all this, the doctor’s tone of inevitability would ring loud in my ears while I tried to shut it out with the power of prayers.

He had said, “If only you had brought her in a little earlier… In such cases, even a month makes a surprising amount of difference”

A month. One irrefutable, precious month. If only we could go back… If only mom had told me or anyone about it when she first suspected something (And she did suspect something!)

What happened after that was a complete blur in terms of the absolute. The doctor’s reluctance to try mastectomy given the condition of cancer, painful chemotherapy sessions, the nausea, loss of appetite, you name it. From being such a cheerful, witty, talkative person, my mother turned into a weak puddle of mouth ulcers that prevented her from not only talking but also basics like eating; tired and dazed but still, wanting and fighting to live…

To live with the realization that you are too late for something is the worst kind of regret. Anything else, you might affix a sense of not being in your destiny to it. But this, to know that everything would have been ok if only you had acted upon it earlier; if you had known about this earlier! Awareness is the word

Today, while I see that healthcare is growing into a major industry, my thought goes out for women like my mother, who, for some obscure reason, don’t go out to address or even acknowledge a problem. Is it the fear of emotional abandonment? Pa is the most loving, devoted husband I’ve ever seen; always extending his touching care and unstinted support to her. I’m a fairly ok daughter (Modesty prevents me from saying much over here!)

And even if a certain unfortunate woman has a callous husband, that’s still no reason for not addressing the needs and cries of her body. It’s about HER

Is it the lack of finances? That can be arranged. Trust me.

Really, how far can we plan issues like women’s health, which is even more an issue in developing countries than their developed counterparts? Unless these “Veiled Rebeccas” of the world come together to make a commitment for personal health and hygiene, not much can be achieved by medical advancement alone.

Doctors say that most cancers can be completely cured if detected early. And breast cancer has some “obvious” symptoms. So the issue is just with the awareness! As I said, awareness is the word.

I cannot even try to explain the trauma cancer causes. When the seconds counted, I was clueless about what was happening in my own home. Now, I live in the daily horror of, “Is it too late, as they say?”. In a matter of days, our lives turned completely topsy-turvy.

I share this very personal experience with the sole need to reach out to those women who have ignored personal health, with a message,

“If you see anything wrong or out of order with your system, however obscure that may be, please do attend to it. First acknowledge it. It is NOT shameful or derogatory to you or your loved ones. It is a privilege to attend to you. Lets kill the monster: Breast Cancer.
Health is the most important aspect of living; A woman, the most beautiful aspect of homes and lives”

And if this message touches even one single life, I am thankful for my literacy and ability to articulate :-)

PS: The image attached to this post has been taken from



At 10:42 PM, Blogger senthil said...

Dear Vini.
I really dont know whether to appreciate for the way you have presented about the monster " Breast Cancer" and real life sufferings or to console you for all the pains you are undergoing now. While writing this comments really my eyes and my heart are really bleeding.. I really feel sorry and want to curse the almighty for all the cause. I know no words and comments would reduce your pain but still realise the situation now and be bold to face the world..take care of your mom.

At 10:50 PM, Blogger Archana said...

Thats a very moving blog..!reflects what u have been going thru!
about awareness...the main cause for the delay in responding to these issues is denial...the belief that such a disaster will never touch our lives..n when its finally our turn to face it..we are pathetically unprepared..! n we follow it up with a series of helpless "if onlys n how i wish"..
We should give this a serious thought...our loved ones deserve it..they should not have to go thru the torture of seeing us suffer while they look on helplessly..!!

At 12:00 AM, Blogger Enigma said...

I have wondered often - how can one write an awareness messages that stirs the reader so much so that they actually do something... I believe this one is going to do just that more so coz it comes from the heart. There are so many out there thinking that it can't happen to them... Hope your mom recovers soon and more importantly hope people read this and help spread the awareness so that _NOBODY_ goes through such an experience!!!

At 10:27 PM, Blogger Jagan said...

Vini ..I had definitely like to give you a hug now ..lost for words ..

At 11:21 PM, Anonymous shalu said...

*hug* to you Vini

Time I have a talk with my mom and know if everything is alright :)

At 12:33 AM, Anonymous Mandira said...

Nobody but you could have put it across so well. This is something everybody needs to be aware of.. I am glad you you could bring out the sensitivity of the situation..
I will forward this to people i know.. so they dont miss out on something as important as this... Like its said.. We just tend to ignore it..

At 5:17 AM, Blogger Priya said...

Dear Vineetha...I don't know what reassurance I can give.... My mom went through the same experience as her mother suffered from cancer. All I can say is... anything can be changed with prayers done with complete submission in faith to God. Hope your mother recovers fully. I'll pray for your mom and you.

Priya P

At 5:18 AM, Blogger Usha Venkatesha said...

Dearest vini,
I know i would fall short in fathoming the intensity of the pain you are going through but tears silently flowed down my cheeks when i read through the harrowing experience your family is going through. Though i havent met your mother i know her through you and what you used to tell about her during our school days.
Believe me all of us are with you and your family for any kind of support you need and at anytime you need.Please let us know.Meanwhile my day is going to start with a prayer and end with one only for your mother. I wish for her recovery and pray to god to give her the courage and strength to fight it out. TOUGH TIMES NEVER LAST BUT TOUGH PEOPLE DO. Take care of your mother. Your dedication and love can definitely create a miracle .

At 5:56 AM, Blogger manoj said...

[b]Hi Vineetha,

I couldnot stop myself from cryin.. I don no wat to say... i m not a kind of guy who sympathises but cud not help this time.. will pray to God tht somehow he/she shows up a miracle yaar... one small suggestion.. i think u mite ve heard of Kylie Minogue "the australian singer... u can search her profile to c whr did c got her operation done... tht mite help...who knows but give a shot yaar... i ll cum n meet u on this tuesday for sure... i had got this hint before, but dint ask u again coz was hesitant... yaaar may God b with u...
Manoj Pandey

At 4:44 AM, Blogger kpowerinfinity said...

Very touching ...
Indeed the news hits people like a tornado, the world goes haywire, and we just wonder if we had been able to apprehend the coming of the hurricane a little earlier, and taken refuge.
My feelings go out to you and your family.

At 1:43 AM, Blogger PC said...

Thanks for the info and ...............
Thanks ... a lot good that you done something to fight the beast .

At 2:50 PM, Blogger VineethaAthrey said...

I MUST say sorry for not having responded to any of these beautiful messages. The reason? Purely emotional ones...

There are good times and then,testing ones. But for as long as one continues to discover the loving support of friends like all of you, the pain feels is a lil' more bearable; I'm ever so thankful to all of you for these lovely comments. You guys/gals are the best!:) Mom was so happy to see your messages :)

And a spl. thanks also to those who mailed and called up.

Senthil, I'm touched.I can feel your smile and hug all the way from Chennai!
Arch, that's very true. Also, the emotional & financial stress it might cause plays a huge role in the non-disclosure.. Hope this post actively helps someone :)

@Enigma: Welcome to my blog :)Personal experiences always gives an edge, but for such monstrous diseases, it's sad if one has to "go thru" such an experience. Hope more ppl become aware and fewer ppl suffer this!

@Jagan: I got it and feels wonderful!

@Shalu: Hmm.. we love the, the hugs. Don't we? :) Did u get to talk to ur mom? Hope evreything s alright..
@Mandy: Thanks honey.. Feels nice to hear it from u..

@Priya: You are a darling. Know what, I've been doin' jus that now..Your words are very reassuring..

@Usha: Thanks honey.. and extra thanks for that call and long talk :) Mom said thanks to ur parayers. Love u..
@Manzee: Thanks again for the 'personal' talk, courtesy Discoverer desk :)Know u emnat every word in that 1/2 an hr..

@kpowerinfinity: Thanks,K. Is it ok to call u that?:) Mom says thanks to u...

@pc: Glad to hear that, pal

At 7:53 AM, Blogger Ayesha said...

Loved the post Vineeta. You're a atlented writer with a good heart. That's a tough combination to come by. Please keep writing

At 7:39 AM, Blogger WriterLady said...

hey, i know the words well-written aren't the correct ones to use for a piece like this but it is and a v v brave one....


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