Sleepless in Toronto

It’s 6:30 am and I have not slept.

That’s another thing about steroids. They make you really hyper.

And I blame you India. You have sent me so much love. And advice. So I went through each and every message. Like the good, dutiful half-bengali daughter I am. Except I’m not studying for my medical finals, I’m looking at each and every word you have sent.

So even if you’re not into my writing, the comments section is so full of eloquent, interesting, quirky or down right entertaining snippets long and short, it makes the blog worthwhile. I’m humbled. Plus it seems we are creating a Yellow Library where anyone can find information, support and inspiration. From around the world. I got a message with a great suggestion: why not create a ‘Yellow Diaries’ forum. What do you think?

I also got a request to make the language simpler. Which I’ll do- sometimes. The point is to connect and share. English is not everyone’s first language. Nor should it be. I wish I could speak more languages.

But the language of the marrow. Now that’s one that penetrates.

Thank you for teaching me the goodness of being alive.

So a few thoughts on alternative therapies.

I was in Kerala on a yoga/ayervedic retreat when I had to have my first blood transfusion this year. That was in March. I’ve been practising yoga for ten years now. I go to Dharamsala for month long silent meditation retreats at Tushita Meditation Centre once a year. And then on the other end I chant Mantras for hours. I also practise vipassana, Metta, Shambala and as many other meditation techniques as I can find. My cupboards are full of naturopathic, chinese and homeopathic remendies. I consider myself a seeker and a student of many spiritual traditions. I’ll write about this one day, but I suspect it might be as full of capers and misadventures as deep insights.

I’m an ‘alternative’ girl in every way.

However when I started my treatments which is not long back, I did not want to mix. My hematologist, Dr Ahmed Galal put me on a relatively agressive, first line treatment because he got that look in his eye: we’re getting membership into the FULL REMISSION club. But you know, it takes time. Like getting into the Breach Candy, or Otter’s Club. You apply then you gotta be careful which members you mix with as you go for your interviews. Slowly you learn more about the club, the conditions you need to fulfil- then you’re in and believe me: even an earth shake won’t get me out!

So right now I’ve chosen not to mix therapies. There are even some things I love like green tea and grapefruit (well, ok, no one loves green tea!) that I can’t have as it works inhibits the work of the drugs I’m on. I have faith in this course of action. I am aiming for a stem cell transplant and to be symptom free by December.

Then focus on alternative therapies to rebuild full, wholesome health.

Even if I’m still a puffy Mammacita! As long as I’m healthy.

All your advice is appreciated. And I think we can all learn from each other. So keep it coming!

Thank you again to my hematologist extraordinaire Dr Ahmed Galal, warrior queen Pauline and everyone at PMH.

Thank you Shamim and Hanan for the words and love.

Dr Shailesh Raina for always rallying with your endless energy and fierce compassion.

Thank you to my friends and colleagues there who have reached out or expressed their support. I send love and hope to connect with each of you in the real world.

For now we have this.

Oh btw:

The media here is reacting with support and sensitivity. I guess many actors or people in my industry rarely go public. I understand why. There’s practical repercussions as in, its become more expensive to insure you on a project. Some producers don’t want to- or can’t- take on that extra cost. So even when I’ve crossed over and joined the ‘Full Remission’ Club, there may be tough career and financial decisions.

It’s hard for me to live any other way than with full disclosure.

I would love to hear how many of you are coping with the practical repercussions of living with cancer or a chronic disease. Do you hide it from work colleagues? Are you able to live openly with your condition? How is your personal and professional life affected? I am fascinated on multiple levels and I think many people would benefit from sharing these stories.

A quick word about support and care givers. I got an email from another member of the Club here in Toronto whose wife was treated at PMH and has been in full remission for 5 years.

I read with interest your comments relating to the support that you receive from your Father. If I may, I would like to make one suggestion to both of you. Your closest Care Givers are also part of the effect of MM. As you are both becoming aware, dealing with Multiple Myeloma is a marathon event. The focus rightfully will be on you, as the patient, never-the-less your Father will also feel effects that will be difficult to balance together with his concern for you. If he is like most Care Givers, he will manage with his effects silently and in the shadows of your treatment.
Let him know that he too is not alone.
‘I read with interest your comments relating to the support that you receive from your Father. If I may, I would like to make one suggestion to both of you. Your closest Care Givers are also part of the effect of MM. As you are both becoming aware, dealing with Multiple Myeloma is a marathon event. The focus rightfully will be on you, as the patient, never-the-less your Father will also feel effects that will be difficult to balance together with his concern for you. If he is like most Care Givers, he will manage with his effects silently and in the shadows of your treatment.
Let him know that he too is not alone.’
thank you for bringing this into focus.

Blue talks never go out of style.

But Yellow Talks rock.

Dip in.

And here’s a photo of me last night. After filming for Plan. I’m well. I’m getting so healthy and so round after years of being depleted and thin. So much that when I walk around into corner stores now, the owners start to suspect I might be a high school prankster with sticky fingers. ‘Only three kids in here at one time’ the guy behind the counter told me the other day. Baby cheeks getting me in trouble.

Picasso said, ‘it takes time to grow young’

But this is really not about me.

Let’s share some more stories.

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