Those 1000 messages changed my life

Sunday, February 4, 2018
those 1000 messages changed my life
Pukhraj Singh

I was a bit self-centered, and was hardly bothered about the world.

At 11, my son got diagnosed  with leukemia and, for the first time, I realized that cancer doesn’t hit just one person but the whole family. As the health of my son deteriorated, the fears of my younger daughter grew. while we were struggling to deal with the disease, my family became my focal point. And I became all the more reclusive to the outside world. 

Our primary challenge was to boost the moral of our son. One day I and my wife asked our son to tell us how cancer had changed his life for better—the idea was to reduce the negativity and fear the deadly disease brought along.

In an hour's time, he wrote an inspiring story on his fight with cancer. It was a learning experience for us. We shared it with our family, showed it to my son’s school principal. My father-in-law, who runs a Punjabi e-newspaper  in Chandigarh, published my son’s story with his photograph and my phone number. 

The next day, at 4 am, I got a call from a person in Sweden who told me that he read the story by my son. This person offered to send me money for his treatment and told me that he would organize a special prayer meeting to pray for his well-being. 

I was confused. This person was a total stranger, why would he do it for my son?

In following  ten days, I got calls and messages from over 1000 people from across the world—some offered monetary support; others moral support. 

I was confused. This person was a total stranger, why would he do it for my son? In following  ten days, I got calls and messages from over 1000 people from across the world—some offered monetary support; others moral support

They all were complete strangers to me and they all came forward to help my son. I didn’t need money but their gestures touched and transformed my life. 

My son successfully fought cancer but  I now wanted to do something for others. 

I joined a group that used to distribute food to patients and their relatives outside All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), in Delhi where I started spending a lot of time talking to people about their lives. 

One day, I met this volunteer working with Cansupport, an NGO. She had come to meet a few patients at the footpath. I asked her what she did and she said , "If you want to know, you should join me for the day."

I agreed.  

She walked towards an elderly couple—a man in his 70s and his wife. She approached them politely and asked why they were there at AIIMS. As they told her about their health problems, the elderly woman started crying. A few minutes later her husband too had tears in his eyes. 

Later, the volunteer told me that these people don’t have anybody in the town to listen to their misery. They need moral support the most and a patient hearing can help them offload  their fears and tensions.

I decided to join her organization as a volunteer. She asked me to come to their office in Safadarjung Enclave three days later. There I met a group of women from elite families warmly welcoming small children suffering from cancer. Some of these women were playing with children them, others were guiding their parents on how to apply for funds for the treatment. 

I was dumbfounded as I sat on a chair in a corner, watching them.

The session lasted three hours. This volunteer came to me and asked if I can come again on Wednesday. On Wednesday, there was a session for older children and I was given the task of engaging them in an activity. 

There was another session  on Friday for adults. My fellow volunteer asked me to address the patients. It was my first such experience, I had never been a speaker before. After a few jumbled-up moments, I shared with them what all I went through when my son was getting treatment for the cancer— the fear, sleepless nights, the do’s and don’ts. 

I don’t know if I made much sense at that time to others, but I felt so light as if someone has taken a heavy load off from my heart. 

I now know the power of letting go.


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