Yesterday was Navroz – the mark of a new year and the first day of spring. As is customary in the Premji household, new beginnings are opportunities to set resolutions. Gym memberships and eating plans seem trivial. And learning to cook more than a peanut butter sandwich just doesn’t seem to be a priority anymore. This year, what I really want is to be like my Mum.
Over the last 3 weeks, I have watched my Mum grapple with the toughest news she has ever had to receive. I have overheard her discussions with friends describing the day she was diagnosed (D-day) and our scare at the Intensive Care Unit –no pretension, no victim-attitude; simply real and honest conversations. I admire her authenticity – her ability to feel the good and the bad intensely, and embrace the vulnerability of the situation in her own stride.
With each curve ball my Mum has been thrown – a second cancer diagnosis, blood transfusions, acute hemolytic anemia – she has stepped up to the plate confidently and hit it out of the park. Never have I seen a person approach uncertainty with as much positivity and resilience as she has. She is fighting these cancers, with every ounce of energy humanly possible to muster up. And through this, she is showing me the gift of being alive. Her will to fight is a testament to how life is much too precious to throw in the towel. Every day, every moment is one worth living to the absolute fullest. My Mum is a walking example of that. Her finely manicured toenails, impeccably clean Toyota Rav4 and brand new hardwood floors are proof enough that cancer does not have to stop life; it merely is a speed-bump that makes you slow down for a bit and take a moment to admire what’s around you, before speeding off again full-force on your way.
It has been a joy to be home and spend time watching my Mum, learning from her, trying to emulate her ways. I selfishly crave our alone-time whether they be on our drives to the hospital, or waiting for test results, or sharing a killer milkshake at Pickel Barrel. These precious mother-daughter moments are opportunities for my Mum to share her thoughts about this process with me. She speaks about the importance of appreciating the little things in life – nurses who can find her vein right away, blood draws that don’t hurt, waking up in the morning with an appetite. She has made me promise to enjoy every bite of food – something she has struggled with since starting chemo. If there is anything I have learned from my Mum through this process, it is that the little things matter. Take time to celebrate the small stuff, because it’s the small stuff that makes this ride much more worthwhile.
When faced with two late stage cancers, it would be easy to sit in the corner like little Jack Horner and ask the question ‘why me?’. But instead by asking the more empowering question of ‘where is the learning in this?’, my Mum has taught me the value of perspective. You can make virtually any situation a positive one simply by changing your paradigm.
My Mum may have cancer, but when she walks into the hospital, she looks like a supermodel. Business suit, heeled boots, funky jewelry – that is the new look of a woman with cancer (and a soon-to-be cancer survivor). My Mum went so far as calling my Dad and me bums after wearing jeans to her last appointment – and trust me, we have dressed to the nines ever since! She has taught me that no matter what experience comes your way, good or bad, you tackle it head on with confidence, with flair and with style. That’s my Mum. A stylish, radiant woman with an extraordinary spirit and an unbelievable zest for life. I am grateful for the opportunity to be with her by her side throughout this time. It truly is a gift to be able to call her my Mommy.