As Told By Priya

 I miss my paternal grandmother – fondly called mummyji by all – everyday but today, on World Cancer Day, my longing for her becomes more pronounced. And the pain, a trifle more unbearable.

I lost my grandmother when I was a child. I’d not even touched six then. My memory of her is a little hazy but whatever I do remember is of a strong lady, much ahead of her time. I’ll, however, not dwell on that.

What I do want to write about is the anguish that came with my grandma’s cancer. For a person who epitomized life itself, it was a setback to be ravaged by cancer. A woman who was on her toes for most part of her day, it was upsetting to be confined to a bed. And, a lady who liked to dress up, losing her crowning glory to treatment was a massive blow.

What my grannie felt during those months will remain a mystery because that was an age of stoicism. You smiled & bore it. Not like today where there are umpteen platforms to vent.

It left my family distressed too. I was too small to understand the severity but my grandfather, parents, uncles & aunts, and cousins – all bore the brunt of it. When this happened, 30 years ago, cancer treatment was not as advanced as it is today.

I’ve a vague remembrance of being in a hospital ward, most probably an Army Hospital, a few feet away from my gran. She lay in the hospital bed with doctors & family surrounding her, all discussing the treatment course. I think this was my last memory of her alive.

I asked my father to write something for World Cancer Day – as a remembrance of his mother & also in his capacity of a doctor.

“Today is World Cancer Day. The word cancer, in itself, is dreadful. It becomes more devastating if it happens in your own family. My family & I went through those unforgettable months when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Dealing with cancer began with denial. Consultations, second opinions, investigations & treatments followed. Hope came & went, like day & night. Despair dawned when my mother’s condition started deteriorating.

All of us became silent spectators to the scourge of cancer. We hid our tears in front of my mother. The helplessness killed us emotionally. And just like that, I lost her – at a young age – to this disease.

Today, however, the cancer treatment scenario is optimistic.
Early diagnosis is paramount.
Scientific treatment is a must; no alternative therapies.
We are getting newer treatments, newer modalities with good success. 

Having seen cancer so closely, I ardently wish no one gets this disease.”

Reading what he wrote, it punctured a hole in my heart. I wondered how our lives would have been if mummyji was cured or didn’t get cancer in the first place. I know, for sure, she would have been making Instagram reels! 🙂

I agree with my daddy. I too fervently wish no one gets this disease.


Thank you so much to Priya for the vulnerability within this post. World Cancer Day was the 4th of February, and marks an important day to many, as highlighted beautifully in this post.

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8 thoughts on “As Told By Priya

  1. My heart goes out to Priya for her loss.
    Note that cancer is not just one disease; the thing all cancers have in common is a lack of growth inhibition controls that keeps normal cells from spreading over each other. Otherwise, each type of cancer, identified by its cells of origin, is distinct: breast, ovarian, lung, skin, brain, bone, etc. But as she wisely notes, early diagnosis is critical to cures, remission or sustenance with cancer. Cancer prevention should be high on everyone’s list, to avoid things that can cause it, such as tobacco use, too much sun, alcohol abuse and other behaviors we can change.
    Thanx for so generously letting folks like Priya (and me!) use your blog to share our stories.
    ❤️&🙏, c.a. (former Cancer Information Service employee for the NIH)

  2. Thank you for sharing my grief story! It’s been decades since I lost her but, somehow, out of all four of my grandparents, I miss her the most. If she was here today, I know without a doubt, she would be my biggest champion.

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