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This is the story of my Three Heroes who Dared Cancer in their own unique way and I was witnessed to their daring battle with Cancer.  All 3 of them, belonged to different times, generations, circumstances and the medicines and aids available to them were different. The only common thing between them was their positive approach to deal with Cancer. Cancer could not dampen their spirits irrespective of damaging their health.

One of them was my paternal Grandmother Godavariben whom we called Ba. When I was around 15, we discovered that my Ba, a grand old lady in her seventies was detected with Cancer- Cirrhosis of Lever. She was widowed  at a young age and still managed her family of 8 children and lived a simple life in a village in Gujarat. Despite being uneducated, she educated her daughters with basic education and got them married in good families. All her daughters settled in Mumbai and her sons also migrated to Mumbai for livelihood. She lived alone in the village until a bungalow as per her wishes was ready for her in Mumbai. Her Bungalow named Matruchaya  i.e. ‘ A Mother’s Shadow’  was in true sense an abode of Mother where she kept an open house for all her children, grandchildren and relatives. She was the queen of her house and her children fulfilled all her wishes and she in turn loved and cared for her entire family. Everything was going well until she was diagnosed with Cancer and that too Cirrhosis of Lever. It was shocking because she never ever ate outside food and always lived a healthy life. This was in the late sixties and we were all so sad, scared and helpless, seeing her suffering and the medicines were also not helping her much. She knew she was dyeing and therefore she called the entire  family and said that they had fulfilled all her wishes and therefore she had no more desires left. She said that she still had one last wish to be fulfilled after her death, which was that instead of mourning, the family should decorate the entire Bungalow with flowers, rangolis/traditional painting on the floor and diyas and celebrate her life and true to her last wish, we did the same and celebrated her life as a festival. My Ba conquered Cancer with her spirit and therefore she is my First Hero who dared Cancer.

My Second Hero who dared cancer with her spirit is my late mother in law Taraben whom I called mummy. She was an educated lady and very modern in her outlook, so much so that she always joked that she lived in 20th Century but I, her daughter in law lived in 19th Century. We all lived in a joint family but my mother in law maintained a very fine balance between the family and her friends, majority of whom were Parsis. She was always up on her two feet, either cooking or running her purse making business or going out or entertaining friends and relatives. There was never a dull moment with her at home. In the late 2004, she started feeling unwell and was getting acute back pain. We at home as well as her friends told her to go for a checkup but she refused to and said it was just a muscle pain. When the pain became unbearable, she agreed to undergo tests. To everyone’s shock, she was detected with Cancer and that too of last stage. She was hospitalized in January 2005 and she knew it was too late for her to recover, so she wished to go home and when we brought her home, though physically tired, she started preparing us  for her departure. She told me to call her friends, relatives and asked me to keep an open house for them, offer them tea and snacks, even if she was asleep. Everyone would come at whatever time suited them and stay around, have food with us. She kept us busy and her guests welcomed. When her health took the worst turn, she told me that she had lived a good life and to celebrate her well lived life, she wanted me to organize a big party on our terrace for her friends and relatives on the 12th day after she left the world. True to her wishes we did the same. For me she is my Second Hero who dared Cancer with her spirit.

My third Hero is my friend who Dared Cancer in 2017. She had gone for a check up for some health problem but the Doctor told her that he wanted her to go through some tests as he suspected Cancer. She came to Mumbai and went through the required tests and she was diagnosed with Cancer but luckily it was just the beginning and so curable with the latest available medicines. She followed every tests and treatments religiously and patiently but with positivity. She was always looking happy and many times I accompanied her for her treatment at Tata Cancer Hospital at Parel. Tata Hospital is huge and there are so many patients around and with the latest medicines and proper treatment, many go home fully recovered. We would go in the morning and sit in the long cue with other patients. I had nothing more to do except follow her, as she would herself go find which department is where and whom she had to meet and where she has to pay money and where was the hospital chemist. From one floor to the other, she knew every place. She would also carry sweets with her for children who were crying due to pain and tiredness. She made friends with the staff at every department. There was never a dull moment with her around and most times, she was asked why she was standing in the patient’s cue, then she would say because she was the patient and then show them her badge. I use to tease her that she could be the guide there. By God’s grace, she fully recovered and when she went for her last check up, her Doctor said that ‘now you don’t come here as being an Advocate you are now needed at the Court room.’ To me she is my Third Hero, who dared Cancer with her spirit.

All my Three Heroes belonged different generations but they had their own beliefs, which could be shocking to many but they did not consult or ask for opinion instead they set positive examples by Daring Cancer with their Spirit.

Ms. Kirti Mulani

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