Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Lesson I've Learnt From Cancer And How It Can Help You.

Last post:                                      My Story:                                         Next One:
"Nikhil, the good news is, you're 17 and you have leukemia, but the bad news is, you're 17 and you have leukemia.. ."

After being told I had this deadly form of cancer - I asked that one question all patients dread...

"What are my chances?"

A man I'd met less than 12 hours pulled off his classes and sighed. 

"10 - 20% you'd live beyond 5 years..."

I cried. For ages. For ages. Everyone was telling me not to - that I had a chance, that I could do it. 

But how did they know what I was going through??

I kept asking myself - why me? What had I done to deserve all this? I hadn't wronged anyone.I was healthy and fit. I trained hard. I was doing well at school too...

I was only 17 for god sakes! Wasn't cancer for old people? Or those who smoked or were exposed to some form of radiation for too long???

I wouldn't listen to anyone's words. I was stuck in a dark hole - depressed. I spent days clinging to the same pillow in the same clothes, sheets and blankets - crying.

But you can't cry forever... 
After a few days... I began to hate that feeling. That utterly bleak, black hole I'd dug myself into. The wet pillows form all the crying.
The idea that I was worthless now - a dead body just waiting to be burned and removed from the world.

I took a step back from all of that. I stopped asking those unanswerable questions. And I looked at what had happened to me as if I was someone else.

All those gloomy emotions pushed aside, I realised that I had the cancer now. And that no matter how much I wanted to, I couldn't go back and change it.

And I realised that, in the end, it was me - MY brain, MY mind that was making me feel down! 

And I realised that I HAD A CHOICE.

I could either stay feeling that way - depressed in that hole or I could look at my new situation in another way. 

I had what I had now, I couldn't change it. 

So the best thing I could do for myself from that point onwards would be to be happy and positive no matter how bad it seemed. 
I could do my best to stay healthy, by working hard between chemotherapies to stay fit and eat up, so I wouldn't waste away from all the treatment. 

I realised that by doing this I could get my mind and my body on my side. And yes - your mind is a powerful thing. It's why things like the placebo effect - where people take sugar pills in medical trials but still feel better because they think they're being given the curitive medicine - exist! And by being healthy, eating up and staying fit - I'd be able to withstand the effects of chemotherapy and be less likely to get any infections during that time.

I read a book given to me by my mother by a doctor who had also been diagnosed with a cancer. He spent a few nights like I had - down and depressed. But after a while - he had a look around at the others in his room and in his ward and asked himself one question - WHY?

Why were they all acting like they were goners when there was a decent chance they could still survive? Why were they being sad about something they couldn't control? Sure, some of them were in pain at the time, but for the others - weren't they just harming themselves when they could be, if not happy, at least content with their lives and their struggles?

And he looked at himself for a moment and realised that he was doing the same.


By simply asking "why" every time he had his doubts - he realised that there was another way of looking at all of this. He resolved to look at his treatment as the CURE for cancer. After all, theoretically, chemotherapy works by killing fast growing cells - and cancer is by definition an abnormal cell that grows uncontrollably fast. By doing this, he put his mind on his side. And he is still alive today to tell that story.

 I looked at his example and decided to try to do the same thing. I took a step back, analysed my situation, and asked myself why I saw my youth as a curse in that I'd gotten something so early in life, when in truth it could actually be a blessing. It meant I could get the hardest, most effective treatments possible and recover from them fitness wise too. It meant I didn't have a family or have other concerns like a job and finances to take care of - in fact I was lucky because my family was on my side the whole journey and would be only too willing to be at my side the whole way through my treatment. And I realised that by being young, I would be able to get back to being normal in maybe 3 or 4 years where others would be afflicted with side complications and other things their whole lives. 

So maybe the bad news was that I was 17 and I had cancer. But the good news was I was SEVENTEEN and I had cancer!

And you know what - for you in your problems - that idea that powers you along - for me it was my youth - what my y can be something like your family - your spiritual beliefs - your gritty, stubborn attitude, your doctors, nurses, teachers or the resources you have on your side - there will ALWAYS be something on your side - and chances are you will have LOTS of things on your side in your battles.

Seeing it things in another light is a big reason why I'm still here talking to you today. You could dismiss it as me just being courageous or something born out of necessity because I was put into such a hard situation.

What I want you to do is ask yourself why?

Why should you have to get cancer or face your own mortality to benefit from what I've learnt the hard way?? In truth - what I did was 4 simple things that ANYONE CAN DO.

1) I took a step back and analysed myself without my emotions in the way. You guys are probably doing this all the time already - for example when you look back at your day and look back at how you handled certain situations!

 2) I looked at my doubts and broke them down by repeatedly asking WHY?


(4) I acknowledged that my journey would be hard - that I'd go through pain and that there'd be obstacles on the way. But I remembered all the things on my side and I knew that though it may take a while, I would get better.

And here I am - 2 years, 7 rounds of chemotherapy, a fatal dose of radiation and 2 bone marrow transplants standing here telling you these things today!

You guys can do the same - for any and all of your problems, your doubts, your insecurities and you can motivate yourself to be better, healthier, happier human beings.

Don't wait until you face a life threatening disease to change. Do so now and you can lead a happier, healthier, more motivated life.

If you want to read more about how I changed my attitude and how you can achieve your goals with the 4 things I learned- click here to read MY STORY

If you want to see how exactly I changed my attitude and mindset and how you can do it too - click here to read CHANGING YOURSELF. <-- If you or a loved one needs help or if you enjoy my blogs or if you're interested in medicine, like my page on facebook =]


  1. So very proud of you my son - blessed to be your mother.

  2. nice one - it's shorter than the first one but i think more effective in helping anyone - not just patients in their times of need. you did a gud jub

  3. That's the spirit everyone likes to see in our youth...go young man!!

  4. Really admire your will, Nikhil.

    1. I always say, it doesn't require any great amount of willpower or courage. By breaking it down like I did, it became something logical - something anyone can do!
      But thanks for that Robert.
      And sorry for the 2-year-late reply haha

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