Cancer Story Of A Poet


Nauseous and fatigued, Vipin hunched over the court room table, berating himself for bringing the wrong file. The well-worn stack of papers in front of him was supposed to state the terms of his divorce. Instead it contained the handwritten prescription of his chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. In a rush to get to the court, Vipin mistook his medical files for his divorce papers.

Vipin was 38 years old when a large tumor was discovered in his femur. The cancer specialists recommended limb amputation for the best chance of a full recovery. Although he was initially hesitant, Vipin agreed to the surgery in the hope of regaining his mobility and independence. He underwent the surgery, but the fix had come too too late. The cancer had already spread to Vipin’s lungs.

Vipin faced the new and alarming diagnosis alone. When the bad news came, his wife demanded a divorce and a very large alimony. For years, Vipin attended divorce proceedings and mediation sessions, interspersed with intensive chemotherapy treatment. He worried incessantly about the combined cost of the alimony and medical bills. On some days, the side-effects of chemotherapy were so draining that they confined Vipin to his bed, where he lay physically weak and emotionally heart-broken. Missed court dates combined with the slow pace of the Indian judiciary system prolonged this period of torment by four years.

When CanSupport first began meeting with Vipin, he begged not to talk about his condition or his divorce. The team was respectful and did not press him. They wanted him to move at his own pace and comfort. As visits continued, Vipin began to open up about his life and loneliness and gradually started to discuss his symptoms and accept their medical care.

He cherished the companionship CanSupport provided but he continued to have moments of frustration. An educated, creative, and intellectually curious man, Vipin had a lot of unresolved anger. He had lost his office job along with his savings--his future was uncertain. With the steady encouragement of the CanSupport team, Vipin began to harness his own creativity. He channeled his thoughts into poetry and began to go for walks in a nearby park. Solutions, however, often sound simpler than their implementation. For instance, Vipin would return from his walks feeling even more discouraged when strangers asked him probing questions about his disability or tried to empathize. The counselor advised Vipin to respond by saying, “Leave my problems aside, how are you?” After attempting this strategy on his next walk, Vipin was relieved to report success and felt motivated to get out of the confines of his house.

The changes in Vipin’s outlook and self-confidence have been remarkable and uplifting. On their most recent visit, Vipin shared a Hindi couplet he had written that sums up his positive state of mind. A self-reflective poem, it read: “Battles need not always be fought on large battlefields, some medals can be won within the four walls of a room." The CanSupport team has been rewarded by Vipin’s changed outlook towards life through a positive lens.

Still, there always remains room for progress. On that same visit, the CanSupport team helped Vipin to fit a lap-desk at the correct height so that he can work on his computer without straining his neck. True to his poem, he is determined to take a step forward and find a job he can do from his home. CanSupport team continues to offer him a guiding hand