By: Sheba Siddiqui, @Shebasid
36-year-old, Seema Gill never took her health for granted, spending days running by the lake and going on long picnics with her one-year-old daughter, Tarah and husband Deepinder.
Like many new moms, some of her most memorable times with her daughter were during her maternity leave, enjoying every minute of the growing bond between herself and her daughter, including the time breastfeeding. But when Gill was diagnosed with breast cancer a little under a year ago, that mothering experience completely changed.
It all began when Gill realized that Tarah was weaning herself off of breastfeeding. Not too long after that, Gill noticed some bleeding through her left breast. Her doctor advised her that it was an after effect of breastfeeding and Gill put it out of her mind.
Shortly after that, Gill’s husband noticed a very large lump in her breast and she returned to see her doctor who immediately sent her in for a mammogram and ultrasound.
Gill remembers pulling up to the doctor’s office with Tarah and Gill’s own mother, Mahendra Singh, waiting in the car. Her mother knew she was there for an allergy appointment however what no one knew was that Gill’s results for her biopsy had just come in and would be waiting for her as well.
Gill remembers the moment she received her diagnosis.
“My husband was in the appointment with me. Thankfully I wasn’t the one who had to tell him because I think it would have been very hard for me to even get the words out of my mouth and see his reaction with my own eyes.”
After getting back into her car, she felt completely overwhelmed and dropped her head as tears began rolling down her cheeks. She felt her mother’s grip on her shoulder and her distant voice asking softly what was wrong.
Gill simply blurted out, “Mom, I have breast cancer.”
“It’s the hardest to tell your mom because now I am a mother and having to hear that kind of news from your own child I can only imagine how hard it was for her.”
But Gill’s mother held strong and fought back her tears all the way home. It was only after they dropped her off that Gill’s brother called saying her mother had broken down in his arms.
“I used to think that I was invincible, like many others,” said Gill. “I am athletic, eat healthy, etc., so I never thought any sickness would get me at a ‘young’ age. Well, this definitely caught me like a deer in headlights. It completely shook my world. I was naturally in disbelief and couldn’t comprehend how something like this could happen to someone as healthy as me, but everything happens for a reason. I’m still waiting for that reason, but I know that God does not give us more than we can endure.”
During this battle, Gill’s family has been nothing but supportive, encouraging and loving, with her sister fully believing she will recover without a doubt, her father constantly doing research and her brother telling her that he will never let anything happen to her. However, none of them knows what journey lies ahead for her.
Gill spends most days at the hospital, being poked and prodded, and then anxiously waiting for test results.
“The day chemo started I was actually ok. I think I was expecting something more dramatic while in the hospital, but my husband and I watched a movie while I got my treatment. That evening and into the next day, I was still ok, maybe feeling tired. But no sooner than later, did I feel the poison go through my body and start to break me down. I felt nauseous, tired, I couldn’t walk up the stairs and by the third evening I lay in bed and told my husband I didn’t want to continue the treatments. I so badly wanted to cry, but I didn’t even have energy to do that. I had nothing but faith that there was a bigger reason for all of this, but in those moments I couldn’t even see that. I felt myself falling into a small depression.”
She adds she felt helpless knowing all she could do is let the chemotherapy take its course.
“I would be awake for two hours and then hit a wall and fall asleep for another two. It was hard for me to play with my daughter because all I wanted to do was vomit. Then next day came and I woke up feeling like I could just walk right out of bed without holding my stomach. I can’t explain to you that feeling, knowing that the chemo was taking it course through my body and freeing me from the aches and pains.”
Gill says being surrounded by love has helped carry her through this difficult journey as a woman and a mom, but nothing can compare to the love she feels from her husband. She sees the tears he tries to hide, the fears he doesn’t want to share and all that he does for her and their daughter, melts her heart.
“His patience and understanding are unbelievable so much so that sometimes I have to stop and just stare at him and cry,” said Gill. “My guilt sometimes catches up to me that he’s going through this because of me but he quickly removes those fears through his tears and gentle touch. Time and time again he has reminded me that in sickness and in health he is by my side and he couldn’t imagine living without me.”
Through this experience, she has learned that it is her husband’s sensitivity that captivates her. So much so that when she decided to shave her head to take control over her hair loss, he was the one who held the clippers while Tarah sat patiently in her mother’s lap and watched. When he had completed shaving Gill’s head, he turned the clippers to her and insisted that she shave his luscious locks as well.
As a mother trying to capture every memory, she insists on not missing any phase of her daughter’s life. Calling Tarah an old soul, she states, “I hope to teach my daughter strength, endurance, love and compassion. I hope she feels the unfailing love between her father and I. I hope that she settles for nothing less in her life.”
Gill knows she has a long road ahead of her but she’s ready to fight and overcome what she calls the big C. She has learned much along the way; her unconditional love for her daughter, the strength and resilience in her husband and most importantly, her own perseverance to overcome this hurdle.
“I have learned that I am strong, a warrior who will get through this because I am determined to see my daughter graduate, get married and meet my grandchildren and to spend that promised lifetime with my partner in crime, my husband. I strongly believe in our love and in our spiritual commitment to each other. We know we were not meant for anyone else but for each other, and going through this only heightens our love and undying need for each other.”
You can follow Gill’s journey with breast cancer on her blog “Pink Diaries” at www.cmatalks.com
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