“We are all just a car crash, a diagnosis, an unexpected phone call, a newfound love, or a broken heart away from becoming a completely different person. How beautifully fragile are we that so many things can take but a moment to alter who we are for forever?”
-Samuel Decker Thompson
Isn’t it amazing how simply yet beautifully Thompson talks about the unpredictability of our lives? We never know how an event will impact our life and change it forever. Cancer is one such experience that can alter a person’s personality and make her/him a completely different person.
In the Nagpur edition of Letter Earthlings, we thought why not take cancer and try to change the way people look at it. We wrote letters to cancer survivors, cancer patients and to the families who have lost their loved ones to cancer. ‘Why not use our positive and kind words to heal and soothe a cancer survivor’ was our main idea behind organizing this event.
We live in a world that is divided by race, class, gender, but in this divided world, kindness and hope hold us together. Cancer is a disease that has confused the entire world, and the world is fighting cancer together. The one common element we found in every cancer survivor’s story was their strength and their will power to beat the disease and come out of it stronger. We wanted to write letters to cancer survivors to salute their ‘never say die’ spirit.
Chemotherapy and radiation are treatments that take a toll on a patient not only physically, but also psychologically; in such a critical time, it means a world to have someone by your side, someone who will make you believe in your inner strength. Constant support and a few positive words can make a huge difference to someone who is going through so much pain.
We often hear people saying one must always follow her/his dreams, come what may, but not many of us actually have the guts to do it. One of the survivor stories we read went on to prove that if you are really passionate about something, nothing can stop you. This middle aged woman is battling breast cancer, her daughter, who had requested a letter, wrote, how her mother’s love for music helped her cope up with her chemo and radiation. Today her mother is a stage performer!
Another instance that was heartwarming, was watching a tiny 12 year old patiently writing as many letters as she could. The care, love and compassion with which she was penning down each letter and personalizing it, was really touching!
The event that was a huge success, gave all of us a new perspective to look at this negative disease. Reading the stories of cancer patients and survivors made us realize that optimism, love and will power can move mountains! The positive outlook of these cancer patients made us reflect on how we unnecessarily crib about little things and blow them out of proportion.
In a world that is so self-centred, it was overwhelming to see so many people join us selflessly for a good cause. If there is one thing I’m sure everyone took home with them, it was a wider world vision. In this age of selfies, this event taught us to look beyond ourselves.