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Braving Cancer by Laughing Together

 

Originally published as “Life is a journey of beautiful rainbows” by Doris Lim in 

Malay Mail June 6, 2015

“Hi, I’m Sukhveer Kaur. I’m a cancer survivor!” smiling broadly as she introduced herself.

“I’m also the founder of Himmat Support Group. We conduct laughter therapy where we get participants to laugh “like there’s no tomorrow”.

Cancer survivors with a zest for life
Cancer survivors with a zest for life

“Oh you must meet my husband, Daljit Singh, who is also a cancer survivor.”

Sukhveer and Daljit once hit rock bottom but are now filled with zest.

They are obviously very much in love as they look at each other, continuing and picking up each other’s thoughts and sentences.

Sukhveer, 50, shared her story first. “I married at 30. A year later I found out that I had auto-immune disease which required a hysterectomy as treatment.”

So in love -- Sukhveer and Daljit are an amazing couple
So in love — Sukhveer and Daljit are an amazing couple

“There was no sign to my cancer. I started having severe gastritis and vomiting spells in 2008.”

“My doctor found that to be unusual and ordered a series of tests. We found out later that I had a Neuroendocrine tumor (NET) which is very rare and affects only 2% of the population.

“I had a Total Gastrostomy which is the removal of my entire stomach. The upper part of the stomach is then attached to my small intestine which means that I am only able to eat a little at a time. But when I see all that glorious food, I can’t control myself and just eat.”

Daljit who was listening in, broke into a chuckle and continued gamely.

“When she over eats, she just throws up. Normally food is digested in the stomach before it is absorbed in the small intestines. For her case, it just “bypasses” rapidly and enters the small intestines. She has what is called a “dumping” symptom.” he said.

Sukhveer picked up the story again, “It just means I get to eat every two hours!”

Laughing in the face of adversity is what Sukhveer teaches in her group, the Himmat Support Group
Laughing in the face of adversity is what Sukhveer teaches in her group, the Himmat Support Group

Loud, hearty laughter and with a determined glint in her eye, Sukhveer gestured for her husband to tell his story.

Daljit, 51, who is a fitness buff and a vegetarian had found it hard to accept that he had cancer and became depressed.

Sukhveer confessed that most women have a wrong perception of their man being strong and are better at coping but the truth is cancer is hard on anyone regardless of age or gender.

For Daljit, caring for Sukhveer could not have prepared him emotionally when he himself was diagnosed with cancer and had to have his left kidney removed.

Their journey has been tremulous over the past decade but the husband and wife team is strong and resilient in their journey, interdependent on each other.

Their faith in Almighty God is unshakable. Sukhveer said positively, “Why not me!” in answer to all the question marks that are hurled her way by callous individuals.

To sum it up eloquently, Sukhveer grabs my pen and notebook, “I must write this down for you, so you will remember Doris,” unabashed like an old childhood friend.

“Life is a journey of beautiful rainbows.”

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Story location: Georgetown, Penang during Cancer Survivor’s Day organised by Mount Miriam Hospital.

Doris Lim also has a blog, A Curried Life

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