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Last week, #Tata Literature Live 2015, I happen to attend this session ‘Fighting the Big C’. Choose your own approach. The panel consisted of Neelam Kumar, Amit Vaidya and Amrita Chaudhary.


The panel- Neelam Kumar, Amrita Chaudhary and Amit Vaidya

The panel Neelam Kumar, Amrita Chaudhary and Amit Vaidya

Neelam Kumar spoke about how she had undergone treatment for her cancer which struck her two times. There were cancer groups she met during this time. She stated that you need to have positivity and inner strength during these times. Teachings of Buddha have helped her too on this journey. She says that you are alone on this journey where people won’t support you and you need to find your inner strength. Change the way you think. (Your approach).

Neelam Kumar introduced to us her book To Cancer, with Love: My Journey of Joy. She recounts her years of illness, betrayal, financial hardships, the breakdown of relationships and the death of loved ones besides the obvious emotional and physical trauma she underwent during this time.

I like to quote a few lines from her preface to this book –

Life is like water. Ever flowing. It has no beginning and no end.

Like a meandering river, it twists and turns into ever new topography. Sometimes it delights us with a patch of sunshine so intense that you wish you could run bare feet onto its banks and stay there forever. But just when you are preparing for this escapade, it winds without a warning into a terrain so grim, dark and foreboding that you wish you could run for cover. Except that there is none.

That is the adventure that makes life such a crazily, dizzy, thrilling journey. The only way out is to fall deeply, madly, irrevocably in love with it.

In the second section of the book, The Sea and Me is all about profound life lessons she has learned from the sea and the six strategies it can teach us to cope with the interval between birth and death. She quotes President Kennedy –

It is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat and in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, we are going back from whence we came’.

It is no wonder that the sea covers seventh-tenths of the terrestrial globe. We are the sea and sea is us. The sea is the greatest of all teachers.

Then in her third section of the book – Interactive section Life skills. Life throws at us myriad challenges and we do not know the answers. This section attempts to answer question’s whether it is a communication roadblock, confronting illness and death, handling adversity and obstacles, facing financial hardships and fears. How to overcome your fears?

Finally, a few teachings of Buddha from Daisaku Ikeda, Buddhist philosopher, peace builder, educator, author and poet. He is the third president of Soka Gakkai lay Buddhist organisation and the founding president of Soka Gakkai International (SGI), which is the largest and the most diverse of Buddhist organisations, promoting a philosophy of character development and social engagement for peace. I shall end with his quote

Even if things don’t unfold the way you expected, don’t be disheartened or give up.  One who continues to advance will win in the end.

Her book is simple to read and one could relate to it. If you are a non-fiction reader, then to do read this one.



PS: Check more posts on this literature festival here

Are women the Second Sex?

Tata Literature Live 2015