Seema – Making Others Smile


Seema sat in the corner of the sectional sofa, surrounded by five of her sisters and sister-in-law. As they giggled over a joke, their strong bond of friendship became clear to everyone in the room. When asked what was so funny, the sisters started to explain Seema’s silly habit of imitating her doctors at the hospital. To distract herself from her own discomfort during recovery, Seema would intently observe doctors as they interacted with co-workers and other patients. She noticed their particular mannerisms and ways of rushing about. Later, she would use comedic facial expressions and vocal inflection to imitate the doctors. Her hilarious impersonations also brought smiles to the faces of other patients in recovery. For a brief moment, they too forgot their pain and discomfort. During the period around her surgery, Seema touched many people with her sense of humor and ability to remain positive through a time of immense suffering.

The CanSupport team met Seema months before her surgery. At that time, she hadnt even thought of surgery as an option. Only 32 years old, Seema was then in a state of fear and denial. She was afraid of the doctors that gave her confusing diagnoses and proposed radical solutions. She was afraid of the hospitals where she got lost in the hustle and bustle of patients, without a second to breathe or to process the doctor's words. In fact, Seema only knew three things for certain: she had cancer, they wanted to cut her leg off, and that without a leg she would not be able to take care of her young son and do the things she loves. Therefore, she did not want the surgery.

Seema’s prognosis left her flustered and discouraged, and CanSupport assumed the vital role of damage control. Gently and thoroughly, they listened to and validated Seema’s fears. How will the community react? Will my family still accept me? How will I be able to look after my son? Without dismissing a single one of her concerns, the CanSupport team explained the importance of surgery. If cancer was not caught early, it would spread, and cancer is not curable when it spreads. The best thing she could do for her son and other family would be to get treatment. With their gentle and informative approach Seema felt reassured and newly optimistic, agreeing to the surgery.

In the seven years following her leg amputation, the CanSupport team has supported Seema through her recovery and helped her regain stability. They have provided medicine to keep her pain free and have encouraged her to reclaim her independence by using crutches. The CanSupport team also remains close in times of crisis. Last month, Seema experienced an unexpected complication with her morphine pump that drove her into critical condition. Morphine spilled from the pump into her abdomen, forcing her to spend seven days in the hospital.

As soon as the CanSupport helpline received a call from Seema’s family, they provided guidance without any delay. The team cleared the family’s doubts and told them what to expect in her recovery. During this time of great distress, they were at ease knowing they could turn to the CanSupport team no matter how big or small the problem. In losing a limb, Seema feels that she has gained lifelong mentors and friends.