by Bharathi, B.V. (2019) Alampu Prakashana. Bangalore.
This is a very special book that presents the personal experiences of Ms. Bharathi, B.V. a cancer survivor, from the beginning of suspicion about cancer, through the diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and recovery.
A good way to describe the scope of the book is to think of the range of emotions, persons living with a diagnosis, experience in their life- somewhat of the NAVA(9) RASAS!!!
1. Shock and horror: Author, was always afraid of her health condition. The book describes the phase of discovering a lump in the breast, postponing the medical help and finally seeking professional help;
2. Insensitivity of the first doctor: The first doctor who blames the person for delaying treatment, rather than supporting. This section, is one of the best in the book;( a must reading for all health care professionals, to understand the correct way of communication of a diagnosis of cancer)
3. Caring and humanity of the surgeon: The importance of the positive/supportive attitude of the doctor who provided her care and the difference it made to her by giving hope and decreasing anxiety;
4. Support of the family: The role of husband, son and parents comes through very vividly and demonstrates the importance of the right approach by the caregivers;
5. Challenges of therapy: This section forms the main bulk of the book and the best part of the book. The experience of chemotherapy and the changes to her life for nearly 12 months is described in the best possible manner. There is neither exaggeration of the impact or minimisation of the changes that occurred in her life. This section will of great value to all those taking chemotherapy/radiotherapy. There are also suggestions to address some of the challenges of chemotherapy. The section relating to hair loss and accepting of the artificial hair(wig), is both hilarious and practical;
6. Cruelty of the friends and the larger society: This is an another important section of the book. Author describes the ‘good, bad and mad’ responses and gives suggestions about the best way to interact with a person living with cancer;
7. Shame: There are personal responses to the changes in the bodyboth at the personal level and the societal level-there is an incident of
travelling in an auto to meet a friend and their reactions;
8. Humour: Ms. Bharathi brings a lot of humour into her experiences, whether is it about the ‘saving of money from the decreased need for hair care’; ‘her comparing the movie scenes of popular movies where the heroines being cared for by the heroes’. Others experiences like ‘forgetfulness’,‘the family getting on without her being in charge’ ‘the role of the new cook who knew so little of cooking!’ etc. Humour is a very good way to look at the changed life situation;
9. Value of fighting spirit: This is the theme that runs through the book. In all the above challenging situations, Ms. Bharathi, addresses her life with a fighting spirit and positivity. Others in a similar situation will find specific ways to be positive while living with a diagnosis of cancer.
This is a book that ‘HUMANISES’ the lives of persons living with a diagnosis of cancer. I strongly recommend the book to a wide range of persons in the society. There is much that can be learnt by the persons living with a diagnosis of cancer, their immediate caregivers, the medical professionals, the friends and relatives, and the larger society.
Book review: Prof. R. Srinivasa Murthy