Love in the Times of Cancer
Mukesh’s love for his college sweetheart, Shachi, remained resolute even after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Here is a Valentine’s Day story to warm your heart.
It was in 2001 that I first saw her. She walked into my tutorial class and it was love at first sight for me. I know most people say love at first sight is just an infatuation, but I felt an instant romantic attraction for her. It could be an infatuation, or young adult crush…I don’t know. All I knew was that my head was swimming.
Initially, I maintained a discreet distance and would just gaze at Shachi in class. But one day I picked up some courage and introduced myself to her. I began to smile extra sweetly each time she looked at me and made desperate attempts to sit next to her. Fortunately, all that worked and we became friends and started enjoying each other’s company.
At that time, I was in my early twenties- impulsive, impatient and insecure. And, madly in love. Shachi and I had barely spent six months together and I began to feel that I had found the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I felt I should lay bare my heart to her. So one day when I eagerly bounded across to her to say: “I Love You?” she was stunned and refused outright. Her rejection hurt me deeply and was a big emotional blow.
But, I was not going to give up. I put the foolhardy move behind me and continued to be her friend. It was a year and a half later, when she had gone out of station, and there was no way of communicating, that she realized she missed me and had deeper sentiments for me. When she returned, our friendship gradually turned into love and became more enduring and secure.
It was in 2006, when all was progressing great in our lives, came a terrifying news that struck me like a thunderbolt. Shachi had been diagnosed with breast cancer. My first thought was that I should not lose her…come what may. I was extremely scared for her and her wellbeing. I hoped the cancer had not spread to other parts of the body. That was my biggest scare. I knew her mother had died of ovarian cancer, when Shachi was barely 15, and she lost her cousin sister to breast cancer. “Oh God…Please save her,” I pleaded. "Please don’t take her away from me. I cannot live without her." I joined my hands and prayed fervently for her life, as I battled with tears of dread and anxiety.
Shachi’s father was very stern and not aware of our proximity. Even when she was in hospital undergoing chemotherapy, I was afraid to visit her as her father would have questioned our relationship. I had to sneak into the hospital when her father would step out for some errand. The first time I saw her after the surgery lying on the bed, pale and weak, with tubes and needles, I choked back tears as I walked to her bedside and took her hand. ‘Don’t worry. It doesn’t matter. I am just so happy to see you.’ But in mind I use to wonder ‘How could the girl I loved so dearly became a cancer patient? She was so fit and full of life.’
Those days, as Shachi underwent cycles of chemo and radiation, I derived tremendous strength from my parents who were amazingly positive and understanding. "Trust in God. She’ll be alright," my parents would keep reassuring me. There was absolutely no resistance from them. The thought of breaking up with her never once occurred to me. I just wanted her to be discharged from hospital as soon as possible so that she could get back on her feet.
It took Shachi 8 months to be treated and get back to normal life. She was doing Masters in History and I was working and completing my Master of Commerce. Our relationship was completely normal like other couples such as going for movies, shopping and fighting with each other. As a person at that point of time, I was confused, disorganised and had a huge appetite for good food. Shachi, on the other hand, was completely my opposite because of which she would often get angry and had broken up twice with me. But, after much persuasion, I managed to get her back in my life.
I got a caller ID fixed on my phone so that I would not miss her calls when I was out. I secretly gifted her mobile phone from my first salary. Nobody, not even her father, was aware about this mobile. That was a big relief. Because I could get in touch with her at any time now.
In 2007, Shachi lost her father. The responsibility of the house and her younger sister came on Shachi. She took up a job with IBN Lokmat News Channel, and was able to help out with the education of her younger sister.
It was finally in 2009 that Shachi and I got married. It had been a long journey for us. But my dream of making her my wife and lifelong companion was fulfilled. Today, we are very happy together and leading a lovely life. She understands me perfectly and I am still willing to do anything for her. We spend a lot of quality time together and go for holidays once a year. We have travelled extensively around India and overseas.
I have never felt any sense of incompleteness because of her disease. I never felt I should not touch her because she has had cancer. I have had a very liberal upbringing, and I never considered her surgery a setback. I consider it a blessing that today she is with me – strong, healthy and raring to go.
Looking at my own life’s experience, I feel love can conquer any problem. The first time when I learnt that my girlfriend had been diagnosed with cancer, obviously I was shattered and thought life would become hell if I lose her. It was the power of love, trust and togetherness that allowed us to fight back. I pray to God that nobody should ever be in such a trying predicament…but loving together, timely treatment and proper follow ups can help you get back to normal.
Read Shachi's battle with breast cancer: I fought breast cancer and won