The saying goes…. “You do not know what you have until it’s gone. Or rather, you knew what you’ve had, just never thought you would lose it.”
Having cancer has caused much inconvenience and disruption to living life – all the insecurities you can ever imagine. Yet undeniably, having cancer made me think deeper about the meaning of life and made me appreciate the people around me even more.
I have always been close to my family, the support from my mother, my sister, and my aunties have always been strong since I was young. However, I cannot say the same about the relationship with my father. Even though he stays with me, there is always this distance between us, which I never understood. I called myself the lesser favored child. I had tried to bridge the gap between us in the past, but I always ended up feeling hurt and unappreciated. Invitations to dinners and outings were usually turned down, and if he decided to come along, most of the time the outings will end up with him getting angry at something and someone. I gave up fixing this relationship and was resigned to living my life with a father who is constantly angry at me.
This is now a thing of the past.
I have to thank cancer for helping me mend this relationship with my father. After my diagnosis, I have a less angry father. We are now able to carry out a decent conversation without anyone of us getting into a fit. He tells me about his experiences during his dialysis sessions, the friends he made, and how some of them annoyed him. He shared about the healthcare workers at the dialysis center, describing them as selfless individuals who took care of the patients. On some days, I shared with him the incidents I encountered at my workplace – about how stress at work had turned good friends into strangers and how frustrating it was to work in the company of negative people. We started talking and hearing each other out with patience. This, I feel is priceless. Even though I lost the blessings of good health, I found my father instead. For that, I am thankful.
My three children – they are the most precious beings in my world. Maximus is the eldest, Melody is the middle child and Melivia, the baby. The three of them have very different characters. Maximus is a sweet and loving child even though he can be impatient and a little messy. He is very witty and often comes up with the quirkiest ideas. Melody, she is a steady and calm worker. When given a task, she does her best to deliver. She’s one very down to earth and patient girl. Melivia is a mix of the older two. She’s got the sweet and loving of Maximus and the steadfastness of Melody. She speaks of things matter of factly and does not mince her words. She’s got the drive to succeed in what she sets out to do. All three are special in their own ways, and they grow up like all siblings do – they quarrel, fight and laugh together.
I am fortunate to have the support of a helper who looked after them and the household chores when I was at work. I would be working in the day, and only get home just in time for dinner. And by then, I would be exhausted and the kids, getting ready for bed, leaving very little quality time with them. Every weekend is spent with the children, trying to tire them out so that they will go to bed early, and I get some me time. I’ll drive the children out to the parks, shopping malls, reservoirs and the playgrounds and I’ll usually bring my helper along. The kids would have a jolly good time and we will share some precious moments talking with each other before I tucked them into bed. After which, I’ll either do some work, spend some time watching programmes I’ve missed or I’ll fall asleep with them. Those days were hectic when the kids were still very young – struggling to strike a balance between being a mother and work commitment is not easy. But, I managed somehow.
Now that the pace at work slowed down, I am able to spend more time with the kids. They are no more toddlers or little ones. They are three very different teenagers. Seemed almost like cancer knew that teenagers are tough to manage and arranged this opportunity for me, arranged for cancer to strike at this moment so that I can spend more time with them to understand them during their adolescence years. Through the past year, I’ve spoken about the research and treatment plans for my condition with the children. And they, knowing and understanding my condition, are now more thoughtful towards each other, towards me. We have conversations over the dinner table and talk about everything under the sky, we discussed and laughed at each other’s silly ways and we sometimes squabble over little things – but all these are possible because, over this period of time, we’ve learned to stop complaining, and start appreciating and treasure our pockets of time together, and that time with each other is not limitless. I figured we would probably take a longer time to realize this, if not for cancer.