Cancer, being a major killer, affects almost every family on this earth, directly or indirectly. The lack of enough awareness and proper cure often leads to poor response from patients, impacting their survival and the quality of life. Treatment, especially chemotherapy/radiotherapy have many side-effects, with hair loss being the most prominent. Other effects include changes in skin texture and coloration, and ulcers. Physical features, especially hairs, are always a prized possession for all of us, and remains a matter of concern. Often, they are an indication of our health as well as well being- socially, culturally and financially.
Cancer treatment being a costly affair adds to the severe discomfort and side-effects faced by the patients. All these start affecting the patients psychologically and a feeling of guilt may develop. Guilt of being a family wrecker, guilt of being a cause of nuisance to all, guilt of letting time and money go waste, without any hope of return. Each moment in front of the mirror reminds them of their situation and misery. Loss of hair, being the hallmark of cancer treatment, isn’t the bullet-mark of pride to a soldier. Loss of hair is the remnant scar which the cancer has afflicted upon the patients. Such scars may even lead to various negative thoughts. Being irritated all the time is a normal behavior. Frequent mood swings and emotional outbursts may be encountered. At times, one may loose temper and may be insulting as well.
Does this mean we, the relatives, the caretakers and the well-wishers should remain helpless? That getting irritated and sometimes yelling may be the natural reaction to their sufferings has to be understood. We can practice not getting agitated by such reactions, even though we may have to face it several times a week. We can imagine ourselves in their situation to understand their agony. We can always take the lead and initiatives to cheer up our unfortunate friends.
A smile on face is always a welcome step. We can often compliment our patients about their inner beauty and the bravery with which they are facing the situation. How they are the inspiration to millions like us who start complaining at the drop of a hat. How the presence and absence of hair has no bearing on our liking them should be stressed. We being their first world are more important to them than other individuals, and vice versa is true should also be conveyed to them. We can always tell them how important and precious they are to us, irrespective of their hair; for its they who are important, and not their hair and physical features. We can also quote the religious scriptures, for they provide with the much needed spiritual guidance.