Wednesday, 5 February 2014

No longer invincible, Mr C !

*Warning - This is a long post*

She was so beautiful, so young, had so much of life in her spirits, dreamt of a wonderful future, yet…

Yet destiny decided to play on her the cruel trick, shrouding her dreams of life with an impermeable veil of  devastating darkness.

She was just 12 or 13 when she was diagnosed with Cancer.

She fought bravely for the next five years, not letting the threatening certainty that loomed ahead, gain on her emotions.

On her blog, she made a bucket list of all that she wished to do, the places that she wished to see in her life, and the causes that she loved to fight for.

She wrote long posts about every day that she survived and every time she accomplished something, she would strike that off in her wishlist, to show the world that she was not yet defeated.

Her social media pages drew followers by the million.

Finally, when the big C won the final battle on January 12th , 2013, Alice Pyne was not just a victim.

She was an epitome of strength, will power and the spirit to fight.

It's been one year since she left the world, but her spirit lives on .

Her family continue  working for all causes close to her heart , A Bone Marrow Register topping the list.


The Big C.

I really don’t know since when this word has gained a place in our daily vocabulary, so much so that not a single day passes, without it being mentioned at least once.
We get to read about brave souls who succumbed to his grips, or inspiring stories about those who fought the monster and survived his attack.
And much more about the dreaded C.

When the Write Tribe feature on Cancer came up, I decided to chip in with my share of personal stories.

When my paternal grandmother, seemingly healthy at 64, expressed her concern on not being able to swallow her food with ease, she was taken to the doctor.
Doubtlessly enough, she  was diagnosed with some ‘growth’ in her food pipe.  
This was followed by as many phases of radiation, as her health permitted.
Yet, the effect was only marginal, and she lost the battle in a year.
I was 13 when this happened, and I still remember weeping at the sight of her weakened body, emaciated by the doses of injection and medicines, as it lay waiting for the final journey.
From a very healthy, plump woman with an enviable thick mane of waist length hair,  she had been reduced to a skeletal frame with absolutely no flesh on the body and dry, coarse hair on the scalp.

That was my first brush with the Big C, and now I knew the havoc it could wreak in our lives.
That was when I felt like learning more.
And that’s when I got to know the amount of research being put into the prevention, cure and survival of the disease.
That someone could actually survive the brutality came as a relief to me.

Years flew past, and with it grew the mankind’s fight to release the world from the clutches of Cancer.
Research into the field gained new dimensions.
More and more awareness was created, and more and more survivors came out to speak to the world, about their conquest of the monster.

When I was in 12th Standard, I had a classmate , S. We were a little more than just ‘hi-bye’ friends during the initial days. Later, we learnt how similar we were :  tamil-speaking Keralites, single-with-no-siblings, from middle-class families and students of Commerce. So that kindled some kind of a friendship, and though she was in another class, we would chat a lot when we met in common classes.

When we left school, we joined different colleges, and the connection snapped.

Those were the pre-mobile, pre-facebook, pre-orkut days. Heck, we didn’t even have email accounts back then.

We remained connected through some common friends, though.

Sometime during the final year of graduation, I got to know from some friends that the Big C had attacked S. She had been taken to the skin specialist for some inflammation on the skin just below her neck, and it turned out to be C.

But she was a tough girl.
She survived the attack with all her might. And that was indeed a great comeback.

Later, when she could attend college, she wore a wig and travelled in the local bus. As she was a daily face on the bus, the conductor asked her where she had been for a long time, and why her hair looked different.

She replied happily, “ Oh ! You didn’t know ? I was down with cancer, but now I’m ok. But I need to wear a wig, till I sprout some hair at least. I don’t want you to deny me my students’ concession, because you don’t recognise me !”.
The conductor and her co-passengers were left speechless for a moment; the next moment she was being congratulated for her brave spirit !

I was so happy for her when I heard of this incident from another friend of ours.

I met S a couple of times after that, and she was very warm, lively and enthusiastic about life ; of course, she had won it for herself, hadn’t she !

We’ve been out of touch for a while now, but to me she’s always my brave friend !!

The Union for International Cancer Control founded the World Cancer Day , marked on February 4th, in support of the goals of the World Cancer Declaration. The theme for the World Cancer Day , 2014 is the 5th Goal in the WCD, being 'Reduce stigma and dispel myths about cancer', under the tagline,  “Debunk the myths”.

A write-up on Cancer is incomplete without the mention of  Dr.Siddhartha Mukherjee, an Indian-born American physician, and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columbia University.

His efforts at detailing the  evolution of the diagnosis and treatment of Cancer from ancient Egypt, to the latest developments in the area, through his book, The Emperor of All Maladies : A Biography of Cancer, won him the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-fiction in the year 2011.

This book is said to be one of the must-reads in understanding, fighting and surviving the disease.

Reading this book will be my next step towards understanding more and more about the enemy to be vanquished !!
The pain that cancer causes is not just physical; its emotional, psychological.

It leaves the survivors with terrible emotional scars, and even those physicall unaffected with a numb mind and an aching heart, if we don’t learn to stand up and fight.

With Science and Technology advancing every second, I sincerely wish there’s more and more innovation happening in Cancer treatment and therapy.

All prayers for a Cancer-free world !


  1. Some C are curable while many are not.The battle to overcome this scourge should not be given up.What was common earlier in older people is widely prevalent in younger too.It is an expensive ailment and poor suffer most.Defies easy solution

  2. wow , I loved this. Yes mr. C can only inject pain but not take away our hope an dreams. I'm glad that that S was strong enough and tht she fought Cancer with a smile..

    1. Yes, Tinu, she indeed is a fighter ! Thanks, dear !

  3. Thanks for Alice's blog page link, Sreeja, and for S' story.

    1. Thank you Ajith Sir :) Yes, Alice is truly an angel...hope you visited her site.

  4. Sorry to hear about your grandma. You must have been very sad losing her.
    S is a brave girl.
    Hope one day no human has to write about Cancer and this word be relegated to the dictionary as an extinct disease.

    1. The sorrow was more because we lost her to this. Yes, S is a brave girl. Hope Cancer soon becomes just a sunsign. Thanks a lot, Kalpana ji :)

  5. People like Alice and S are so inspiring. Despite all the pains and miseries inflicted by the Big C, they fought it with a smile and how! Sorry about your grandmom. I lost a cousin to leukemia. She battled for 6 years and died at the age of 9 and my bua too, who was diagnosed at the terminal stage. Amen to the prayer for a cancer free world!

    1. So sorry about your cousin and bua, Shilpa ji. I read your comment at Kajal's blog. When we lose them to something as terrible as this, the sorrow is magnifold. Amen ! Thanks a lot !

  6. Sorry for your losses but what amazes me the most about people who have been faced with this disease is their will to live and survive. As much pain as they suffer and all they go through they still want more than anything to live and to experience life. Wouldn't it be great if they found away where cancer no longer killed and where when we heard the world we wouldn't be assured that it was a death sentence.

    1. Thanks for the visit, Kathy. Yes, the pain they suffer makes them hold on to life all the more. It would be great if they found a way where Cancer was just another sunsign !!

  7. Sorry for your loss. I also lost my aunt to cancer. She was 68 years old. I believe that the more we dwell on things, they start to occur in our sphere so I like to dwell on the good times with her.

    1. Very true, Suzy. We need to dwell on the good times ! It is just on such occasions that we write about them, so that we share our pain with the world ! Thanks for the visit, and the kind words :)

  8. Sorry about your paati and everybody needs to learn from S. My prayers for a better world!

  9. Sreeja Praveen ...Accept this Versatile Blogger award from here
    Good luck..Keep Blogging..

    1. Oh Wow !! Thanks a lot for the kind gesture ! I shall soon hop in and accept the award ! :)

  10. Sometimes it takes a million words of promises countered by one stroke of determination. All cures, medicines doctors of the world cannot equate human courage..


    1. Yes, most of the times its human courage that wins. Cheers to that ! Thanks, Richa :)


    1. Oh Tinuuuuuuuuuuu :) Thanku thanku :) Will get back on that soon :)


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