The mom of a close friend of mine got diagnosed with womb cancer when my friend was 17 years old. Prior to the diagnosis, her mom had always been an accommodating, and quietly submissive person, taking care of the family business while my friend’s father is out hanging out with his friends.
When her dad came back after enjoying himself and in a foul mood, he would just verbally abuse her mom for no reason. Usually, the words were hurtful- he made sure she knew what an incapable, uneducated useless woman who was just lucky to end up with him. He also found fault with lots of things that she did. If I was not mistaken, my friend told me that her dad had hit her mom a few times.
Through the years, her mom had allowed that abuse to happen. She told my friend, that she will just put up with it till all her children are grown up. Then, she will just leave him.
That was the plan- until that fateful year when she was diagnosed with womb cancer. It was a tough period for my friend as well, as she was due to sit for an important examination soon.
Her mom had to undergo operation, followed by radiotherapy. Unfortunately, the radiotherapy damaged part of her intestines. She had to attach an external colostomy bag with her wherever she went- where her feaces had to be lodged on the bag instead of passing out naturally via the rectum. It was almost 2 years before her intestines recovered and she was able to have it removed.
It was during the time that her mom made the decision that she will just stop being nice and accommodating. She is not a fierce person, but when she started standing up for herself, her husband (my friend’s dad) started backing off. At the same time, my friend and her siblings were already very angry with their father- and in order to protect their mom, they no longer endure their father’s nonsense. They made it known that if their dad were to as much as bully their mom anymore, they will leave their dad.
Deep down inside, bullies are cowards- they are just trying to portray power through breaking others down. When the victim refuses to endure any nonsense, the bully will usually back off. And sometimes, these former bullies will find courage to deal with their own fears and issues.
But there’s also another side to this- as a couple, they have gone through a lot of difficulties together. After her mom changed, their relationship sort of evolved. There was no divorce- in fact, later her mom ran into some difficulties and her dad dropped everything to be by her side.
It has been more than 15 years since the diagnosis. The cancer has been under remission.
Of course, her mom also took care of other aspects- such as her diet, and do not work herself so hard anymore.
She is not the first cancer survivor who I’ve seen changed from being a passively submissive person to a more assertive person. Perhaps the diagnosis is not such a curse- as it had forced her change her life.
Everything that happens in our lives- illnesses and tragedies are part and parcel of the life of a mortal. It really sad and it sucks big time to have to learn a lesson in such a cruel way. But these incidents force us to stop living our life in the wrong direction. They give us no choice but to turn inward and after we heal, we emerge as stronger, more compassionate and learn what’s the meaning of conscious living.