A few days ago, I received a message from a reader who had become a friend of sorts: her mother has been diagnosed with Stage 1 cancer and she (my friend) was suddenly pulled back into the old toxic relationship of her past that she had successfully left behind when she got married and built a family with a loving man in another country.

I advised her (because she asked) to do her duty of care by her mother (“be a filial daughter”), but at the same time, protect herself and her family from the destructive relationship.  With support and care, people do recover from Stage 1 cancer on the whole (though there are exceptions), and drama will not help any party. It will make everything worse, especially for the cancer patient.

As a cancer survivor myself, I can say this with conviction: the key to recovery is peace within oneself.

When I was sick, my primary carer and my brother fiercely protected my space. My aunt provided me with a safe haven where nobody could reach me.

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My two good friends, Anna and Vicky, whom I started this blog with, provided me with day-to-day support.  I lived a very quiet life in a small, sheltered world within London. All I did during those dark and chilly November days were hospital appointment, church, meditation centre and long walks along the Thames with my primary carer who was also my doctor and my soulmate.

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Strangely enough, that period became one of the loveliest in my life, though I was battling illness and other crap.

I wasn’t allowed any toxicity in my life nor any toxic drama, and my two gatekeepers worked hard to filter out negativity from my life, though at that time, I was fighting a bitter battle with Vodafone which continued to bill me for someone’s account which I took out in good faith for that person as he did not have a UK address or a UK bank account: though I was continuing to pay for the account, Vodafone told me that I could not cancel it as the number was registered to someone else, and that someone else refused to help me further to cancel his number. I was losing money every month with no end in sight. And when you are facing radiotherapy everyday, weakened, this petty little battle became huge and insurmountable.

This was threatening to pull me down, but the force of good in my life pulled me to a sunny place.  As the saying goes:

Those who truly loves you finds you in pieces and gives you peace. Those who uses you takes your peace and leaves you in pieces.

This is the message I want to send to my friend as she is being pulled into a drama that will leave her in pieces again. A few days ago, I sat in the burial ground of St John’s Wood London with my peace-giver and felt bliss descending upon me.

“We’re all going to die anyway,” he shrugged pragmatically, ever the heart surgeon. “It’s how we live that counts.”

Photo: children playing by the graves at St John’s Wood burial grounds on a sunny summer’s day sums up this post.

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