A Tribute To A Cancer Soilder – Rest In Peace Aiya 

My tribute to my beautiful grandmother 

2016… Her 77th birthday which she unfortunately had to spend in hospital. That didn’t stop dad and I from throwing her a mini party. Look at that smile!!!

Please note: 

  • Aiya is the colloquial tamil word for grandmother. 
  • Thatha is the tamil word for grandfather.

Let me start by saying this is undeniably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write. This isn’t a perfectly written tribute with on point punctuation and top notch vernacular- it is a story of pain and the loss of one of the greatest woman I’ve ever known… and is one of the greatest pain my family has felt.

On behalf of my parents, uncles and aunts and all of aiya’s grandkids and great grandkids, I would like to thank you all for coming today to share in our sorrow, but also to celebrate aiya’s wonderful life. To see so many pay their respects is a testament to how many lives aiya touched. My grandmother was a pretty special woman who lived a rich, long life filled with challenges, love and adventure.

What do I say about my aiya? Where do I begin? My aiya, Logie Singh as you all knew her, was born on July 1st 1939. She came from simple beginnings, she worked tirelessly throughout her life often doing what most would deem a man’s job. A woman of her generation to be as independent as she was.. let’s face it, it was something unheard of. When we lost thatha 11 years ago, I lived with aiya for a while before she moved in with aunty Ranjeni and uncle Babs. It was during this time that I got to know my grandmother all over again. Today when I look back at those simple memories of her fetching me from school and having that after school snack waiting in the car, or hearing stories of all the match making thatha and her had orchestrated…or simply hearing her call me “yoneets” the way only she would… today I realise those memories weren’t so simple after all.

It was 8 years ago that her cancer journey began, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Most people would want to crawl into a corner and not face the harsh reality of what lied ahead of them, in fact most would look at it as a death sentence… but not my grandmother!!! She looked it dead on and fought with all her might.  She accepted this lifestyle change, and She had all the determination to win this battle. And she did… after 5 years she was cancer free. Unfortunately, that victory was short lived, not long thereafter she was diagnosed with spine cancer…but that didn’t stop her determination to recover. When doctors told her she had 6 months to live, aiya once again proved her strength and saw another 2 years. Such was the will power and strength my grandmother possessed. 

So I ask everyone to please remember my grandmother as that strong, independent, beautiful woman with that heartwarming smile she always had on her face. Because to me, my grandmother never lost her battle against cancer… I know it wore down her body and exhausted her strength but it could never dim her smile. Cancer could not beat aiya..it never stood a chance. 

Aiya if you are listening… thank you for loving us so unconditionally, Thank you for giving your family 77 glorious years with you, but most importantly thank you for fighting so fiercely to be with us. You were this family’s strength and you will live on in each and every one of us. In the days leading up to your passing, you often told me how tired you were… so today as much as my heart is broken, I’m comforted knowing you are safe in God’s arms… and most especially you have been reunited with thatha. Go well aiya, I love you.

First Graduation – 2013

Just When You Begin To Think It Has Rained Enough – It Starts To Pour

It’s been 2 and a half weeks since my last post… alot has happened. 

At the beginning of any cancer journey, you are often theoretically equipped with the knowledge of what awaits both you and the cancer patient.  As much reading I have done and as much interaction both mom and I have had with other cancer patients/survivors, nothing could have mentally or physically prepared us for the last 2 weeks… It’s been the worst weeks thus far.

2 weeks ago, mom completed her 9th chemo treatment. It was such a milestone especially when we realised that she had only 3 weeks left. However, we didn’t realise how bad things could get. Her usual side effects were amplified.. coupled with this she was having black outs. Thankfully whenever that would happen, someone was always around her. It had been her worst week thus far. That feeling of helplessness and frustration which I used to experience at the beginning were now coming back… my already tiny mom had lost even more weight, could barely manage to finish a slice of bread and had turned about 5 shades darker …it even got to the point where drinking water was making her naueasous. 

Noticing that the side effects were only getting worst, dad had notified her oncologist.. where the decision was taken to hospitalise her. Mom spent 5 days in hospital… she had to have a blood transfusion and was given a ton of steroids amongst other things.

Both mom and I weren’t happy about this new separation (given the strict hospital visiting hours) but it was good to see her get stronger day by day. There were noticeable changes… for once she was eating 3 solid meals a day and more importantly I saw her face become brighter and get back her complexion.

However in the midst of one’s recovery, another was silently closing the door on life. On September 12th, my grandmother passed away after a long and exhausting battle with cancer. She truly is a soilder and will always remain so in my eyes… I’ve decided that that my next post will be a tribute to her. It is only fitting that her story of bravery be told.
It is unfortunate that my mom was in hospital at the time of her passing… however if there was anyone who understood the battles one faces because of cancer, it was my grandmother. As hurt as my mom was, she takes comfort in the time they spent together a few weeks ago.

Since then, mom has been discharged and is home. She is recovering and getting stronger by the day.

Treatment No. 09 Done & Dusted

It’s the 4th of September and as of 2 days ago mom has just completed her 9th treatment… Boy has she come far!

In the weeks leading up to this, we’ve seen some pretty good days and some God awful ones. I’ve seen her cry in pain and I’ve also seen her fight to keep the normalcy in her life. I’ve seen her bicker with us (her immediate family) out of frustration, and I’ve also witness her get emotional out of appreciation, simply because I tucked her into bed one afternoon.

She’s lost her hair.
She’s lost weight  (I’m not happy to report that, she didn’t have much to begin with).
She battles to keep food down.
The nausea has been insane.
She feels weak to the point that she blacks out.
Her body aches most days, and
She worries that her complexion has particularly darkened.
But the warrior is still standing!!!!

Since my last post, mom’s blood count dropped significantly… Whilst this is not what we hope for, as your blood count need to be 10 and above – it’s also proof that chemo is doing its job.
Added to her already long list of meds on a Friday, is this Cocoa-cola resembling drip called Valifer (pretty certain I’ve spelt this incorrectly), used to up your blood count…. which means it’s also taken her usual treatment of about 3.5 hours up to 5.5 / 6 hours. She is one of the first patients to arrive and literally the last one to leave… we often joke with the staff that we’ll just lock up the premises for them whilst we’re at it.

This week my parents and I visited the company my mom works for. Since her diagnosis, she has been put off from work … Yes, I am aware that many people work and still take chemo or radiation.. however my mom works for a medical waste company. Being in that environment and coupled with the fact that she’s the type of person with an incredibly weak immune system and that her treatments are weekly, putting her off work until her chemo and surgery is complete seemed the only fitting option.
Now back to our visit to Compass Waste Medical Services… It was an incredibly emotional visit for mom. Many may not realise this, but she misses work terribly.. so to visit her “Compass Family” really hit home. How cute it was to see them throw her a mini tea party… the love and support we witnessed was pretty awesome.

That’s the thing about tough times… it shows you the true nature of those around you hey. I’ve personally witnessed the amount of genuine and sheer love and support my mother has received. I’ve also seen the lack of empathy from people she’s once considered close to her. In fact in certain situations I’ve seen more care and affection from strangers than from people she’s had relationships with for decades. This week I’ve realised that whilst many may know the ins and outs of cancer, not many will grasp the emotion behind it… and I guess being on the inside, I’ve taken knowing this for granted. Yes unfortunately we live in a time where cancer isn’t a foreign concept, its now a word mentioned in most homes … but just because it’s become as common as the common cold, it doesn’t take away from the fight a cancer patient has to put up.. so I will forever be thankful to those who have shown my mother and every other cancer patient out there love, support and kindness.