Heartfelt Harmony: Navigating Cancer Care with Md. Rizwan and Vivek Sharma’s Compassionate Journey
Vivek Sharma: Hello, I’m Vivek Sharma, and you might have seen me on vivid platforms where I discuss cancer and mental health. When we talk about cancer, it’s a disease that scares everyone. Nobody wants to talk, read, write, understand, or even think about it. It feels something very distant and it brings a lot of challenges to an individual in terms of physical, mental, or financial issues. It’s a significantly big issue in the society. One thing about cancer is it doesn’t impact just one person, it affects the whole family, leading to discussions about it. Today, we have Mr. Rizwan with us. Rizwan will share what he does and where he comes from. But let me tell you Rizwan is an incredible person who is constantly making significant contributions to the cancer healthcare field. When we get caught up in our problems, we tend to focus only on ourselves. However, Rizwan is one of those individuals who has also looked after other people’s problems. He has stepped up to guide and support those individuals, assisting them in facing their own difficulties. Rizwan, a warm welcome to our channel! Rizwan, warm welcome to our channel!
Rizwan: Thank you, Vivekji, for the introduction. I want to share that I play a small part in helping people dealing with cancer. When someone is facing cancer, it brings a lot of pain and challenges. In such tough times, everyone supporting you feels like family. As a caregiver, I do my best to support patients using the Lungconnect platform. I assist people with cancer during and after their treatment, offering both physical and emotional care.
Vivek Sharma: In my view, when someone has cancer, it’s like feeling pain in your feet It’s like when you fall and you are experiencing a lot of pain when you break your leg. However, this pain is not as intense as when something happens to your child or family. Physically, you might not feel much, but mentally, it’s very challenging. Being a caregiver is a bit like the tightrope walkers in the circus – they balance on both sides but could fall on either side. In the case of cancer, it means taking care of the patient on one side and staying active to support them on the other side, creating a delicate balance.
So, tell me about this caregiving journey. People just have the basic idea of what caregivers do – like they advocate, and help cancer patients and families deal with cancer effects. For a while, not many people discussed it because there are many aspects of cancer that are hard to talk about. However, when we start sharing our experiences, we realize that we all have a common bond – the pain we feel is similar. So, Rizwan, in this caregiving journey, can you share what the main challenges are in general?
Rizwan: So, let’s talk about the first challenge, which is the back-and-forth nature of caregiving. From what I’ve seen as a caregiver, families often share that they were leading a regular, worry-free life. Suddenly, one of their family members is facing cancer, and everything has changed drastically. People commonly express that they never had a family history of cancer, making them feel helpless when someone in their family is affected by this illness.
As a caregiver, our main job is to handle finances, resources, medications, and emotional support, and keep track of the patient’s health. Managing all these aspects can be challenging for the patient and their family, so the caregiver takes on the full responsibility.
When I became a caregiver, I had to figure out where to get information and help for cancer. I heard stories about people facing a limited life expectancy, with doctors giving estimates like three months, six months, one year, or two years. Resources were scarce, and for someone with cancer, it was challenging to know where to turn. If there was a family history or someone knowledgeable, they could guide you. So, I took a proactive approach. Instead of closing off, like many patients do, I reached out to friends. I shared what was happening and asked for information—where to go and what to do. Surprisingly, I didn’t even know about Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, which is significant for cancer treatment.
Because there was no one in my family who faced this situation before, I started reaching out to people for help. Friends and family provided valuable suggestions, such as consulting with experts and considering treatment at Tata Memorial Hospital. The first challenge was not knowing what to do, which was tough. Additionally, making decisions during this time is emotionally distressing, and you have to stay strong. When you have a close emotional bond with a spouse, mother, or father, the worry about whether they will survive or not creeps into your mind. As a father, you naturally want all the happiness for your child, so dealing with your wife having cancer adds to the emotional strain.
So, when I look at my child, I feel both vulnerable and resilient. Our journey began two years ago when cancer entered our lives. We felt shattered and supported each other in the fight against this disease.
Vivek Sharma: You have expressed it accurately. Some people offer words of assurance, saying that everything will be fine with time. However, sir, the truth is different. Reality has a different impact, and over time, you learn to live with cancer by making compromises and adjustments. Let me ask you something important: many issues arise in our lives because we don’t accept the circumstances at the right time. When we mentally acknowledge that yes, this has happened to us, then perhaps we can begin to see a way forward. Emotions play a crucial role in everything. Without emotions, there isn’t much difference between humans and animal
So, by Ignoring this aspect for a moment, what other factors do you think impact individuals? Financially, physically, and socially. People used to admire you, but now those same individuals who once felt proud of you have started viewing you with sympathy. They begin to avoid you.
Rizwan: I empathize with them a lot because I’ve experienced similar situations. The most important thing is, consider this scenario: if you’re engaged in any other work apart from caregiving, perhaps you have a business on the side. In both nuclear and joint families, the major challenge is that when we shifted to a nuclear family, we lacked human resources. A single person has to handle all the responsibilities.
And the treatment is not something where you go in the morning for work and return in the evening. The diagnosis alone takes about a month when the doctor assesses the basic condition. Additionally, if you’re undergoing chemotherapy, you need to spend time there every 21 days as part of the cycle. Furthermore, if you have follow-up appointments, you have to take leave at least once a week.
Now, if you own a business, your business can remain closed. If you have a job, your leave is limited. So, this is both a disadvantage and an advantage of the nuclear family. The disadvantage is that you lack resources. From the job or business perspective, the loss you experience in your work life is tremendous – your performance decreases, your promotion may be affected, and all these things can contribute to additional stressful situations.
It may not be apparent at the beginning because your focus is on treatment and diagnosis. When you move away from those aspects, these challenges gradually emerge and start indicating their impact on your life. As for your job, it also depends on the support you receive from your workplace. I am fortunate to have received support from my employer or management, but from what I hear from other caregivers I am connected with, they don’t often get holidays and leave. They feel that the boss or management sympathizes with them for a few months or days and then returns to the same attitude after some time. They say, “How long will this continue?” If such a statement is made, it further breaks the person. Therefore, there is a need for people to better understand this perspective from a healthcare point of view.
This is not a man-made disaster; it’s something that can happen to anyone. Additionally, regarding your question about how people who are connected impact you, cancer has taught me a lot. People are connected to you only as long as they benefit from you. As long as you have ample resources—more money, higher status, more power—people stay connected. They stay connected to you until you have more resources. So, the moment you have a disease, initially, many people show sympathy. Gradually, people start keeping their distance. Will they ask for money by calling you? All these things gradually make people distance themselves from you.
Alright, one shouldn’t get upset by these things because we are also a part of the same society. We ourselves behave in a similar way, so it’s essential to recognize that things operate like this. We are also a part of that society, and we also act similarly. So, don’t be too disheartened by these things.
Vivek Sharma: Let’s assume that our viewers watching us may find similarities in their stories, lives, or illnesses with your words. Now, tell them, brother, what are some things they can connect with? If some things are broken and can’t be fully fixed, how can they align with the remaining life, the time ahead, and move forward?
Rizwan: Certainly, a crucial question has been posed, and I appreciate it. Now, the question arises is – what’s the next step? How can we tackle it? I can share my experiences from my life journey, but keep in mind that what works for me might not be the solution for everyone, and there could be various ways to approach this.
I suggest acknowledging the situation, understanding that these challenges exist and might persist. Challenges are a part of life, and they can happen to anyone in the future too. Secondly, regarding financial resources, use them wisely. Now, when it comes to emotional well-being, it’s not an easy task. I understand that it’s easier said than done. However, there are some things you can try, such as keeping yourself occupied and trying to maintain your previous routine, even if it’s challenging.
The more you keep to yourself and isolate, the more overwhelming things can become for you. Another aspect is that everyone usually focuses on the patient, but the caregiver’s journey, struggles, and mindset can be quite challenging. It’s alright to seek advice from psychiatrists regarding issues like sleep depression. Sometimes, you may go to bed and start thinking unusual thoughts, like what will happen if things don’t improve, how they will unfold, etc., and wake up suddenly in the middle of the night. If you feel these thoughts are getting out of control, it’s perfectly okay to consult with a psychologist. Discuss your problems with them, and they can provide solutions, which might include medications to help with sleep. It’s completely normal to seek help and support from professionals.
The second and third crucial aspects involve not treating the patient as just a patient. Avoid making them feel down. Instead, include them and assign some tasks or responsibilities. The tasks don’t necessarily have to be physically demanding. Provide them with responsibilities at home that require less physical effort, so they feel like they are contributing. It’s essential to keep them engaged in various activities. Besides giving them tasks, another important aspect, if financially feasible, is to travel and enjoy life. This has been the best strategy I’ve adopted in my own life.
In the 11 years since our marriage, we haven’t explored as much as we did in the last two years. Even within a budget, you can plan. I set a target for each year. Every year, I give my wife a written list of new destinations. If she stays well next year, we plan to go there. Last year, we visited Kashmir. We also have a plan for a trip this year. If the budget allows, you can plan a budget-friendly trip. Don’t let these things affect you. Sometimes, you need to adopt dialogues from movies like “Life shouldn’t be long; it should be lived fully.” Create beautiful moments in it. Again, I am saying it is easier said than done.
So, while I’m trying to implement all those things I mentioned into my life, I feel that with these actions, we can significantly improve the problems we face.
Vivek Sharma: Amazing. You’ve shared some very good things with us. As Rizwan said, although it’s easier said than done, and I completely agree with these statements. But one thing is very important. What is common among all of us fighters? You know what it is? We should start somewhere, try something even if it’s difficult.
If we can’t walk 10 kilometers, we’ll walk five, one kilometer, or even a hundred meters. But we won’t stay where we are. We have to create such determination within ourselves, and you stay with us. Keep in touch with us and keep watching more videos for all the information and perspectives on how to fight cancer and how to face these battles.
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