This blog has been nestled in the back of my mind for a while now. I’ve done enough living to have something to say but have always been held back by an innate reticence. But I’m taking the plunge now because of some people I’ve met recently. Women, youngsters and families that have randomly come up to me and told me that some interviews of mine have made a positive difference to their lives in some way and that they were glad I’d spoken about it. It made me realise that speaking about one’s own experiences openly is one of the most effective ways to reach out and touch another human being’s life. So, at the risk of sounding like a soapbox orator who is too fond of the sound of her own voice, here goes.
Among the many milestones in my life, two of the most importantly defining ones have been parenthood and cancer. I say parenthood because almost from the beginning, I have been a single parent to my daughter, and as many other single parents can attest, being mother and father to your child confers a composite parenthood on you. And as they say, it never rains but pours. So, in due fulfilment of that adage, my single parenthood and losing my parents in quick succession was the pouring part. My daughter has given me reason to live and face each day with anticipation, for her sake and sometimes simply because I can see the world through her eyes.
I received my diagnosis of breast cancer on a Valentine’s Day. I’ve never been one to make a fuss over designated days of celebration other than birthdays of loved ones, but this day has stuck in my mind. Understandably, I guess. I was fortunate. I had loved ones around me, supporting me in whatever way they could. And through it all was my daughter, who walked with me every step of the way. I never excluded her from anything but explained the problem and the treatment procedures in terms that she could understand. She was by me when I first cut my waist length hair. She was lying at my feet on my hospital bed watching tv, when I came out of anaesthesia. I speak particularly of her now because that is a major part of my life’s learning. The inevitability of birth, life and death. And the need to live the time that we have on this earth with holistic grace and kindness – to others and to ourselves.
I’d like to speak about experiences – both mine and those of those that I have permission to share. Because within these narratives, we will find that one story that resonates with us and in doing so, gives us the reassurance that there have been others who have walked this path, felt this pain and triumphed. In launching this collective of voices, I’d like you to listen to a song. A daughter’s letter of love and thanks to her father. A tribute to fathers everywhere who have brought their princesses up to be warrior queens and live their lives to the fullest – on their terms. This is Hyma’s story – sister of my heart. Cancer is only one of the things that she has overcome in life. I would like to share many such stories also on these pages. About how there is always life again.