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Dr. C: We've all got stories to tell, about cancer and more

In his last column, Dr. C reflects on what he's learned through his cancer treatment - about himself, and from you.

Dr. Nikhil Joshi has found sharing his story healing

Dr. Nikhi Joshi celebrates the end of his cancer treatment with one of his favourite things - a visit to a restaurant. (Courtesy Dr. Nikhil Joshi )

This is my last blog post as Dr. C. 

I'm done my chemotherapy treatment, and, I'm happy to say, I'm completely clear. I'll follow up with my doctor every three months for the next year, and I'm going back to work in a month.   

That made me think about how this whole thing started, how I became Dr. C. 

I started doing this to help bring more understanding of what it's like to be a cancer patient, and what we and our families go through. 

But somewhere along the way, I think this became bigger than cancer, and I've been struggling to identify exactly why. 

I think it's the openness – from all of you.  

I'm a 27-year-old physician with cancer, and I'm telling my story and it's just real. That's it.

Why speak out? 

So many people ask me time and time again – why be so open about this? Is this just about my need to talk about this thing for my own sanity? 

It may have started like that, but along the way I think I realized what this is truly about. It's about our culture of silence. 

When I was diagnosed with lymphoma I felt a lot of pressure from myself and from others in my life to be silent about it. 

It was no one's business if I had lymphoma or not, so why advertise it? Didn't it just make me vulnerable? 

To be honest, I became truly pissed off.

I'm not ashamed I had lymphoma. I'm not afraid to say that I've been suffering through chemotherapy, that at times through this experience I've been lonely. That at times I've been wondering if I'm going to die. 

I'm proud of who I am and how I've lived this stage of my life. 

In our world we have people who suffer. Some of us get the cancer card, some are sexually assaulted, others suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or depression. 

The list of individual miseries go on and on. We all have our stories, but so few of us tell them. 

There's that ugly voice in our heads which says, "What will people think? What will people say? What will happen to us if we speak out?" 

And finally, "We should just shut up and pretend everything is normal." 

I've chosen not be part of this culture of silence. I care enough about myself and about the thousands of people who have suffered and who have found this whole blog thing sort of healing. 

We have a lot in common

I realize now that I share so much in common with so many people from different walks of life.

While our sources of hardships and suffering may be different, at times we all feel the same way. We feel like no one cares, and no one is listening. 

Well, this has been the first step. It's funny that it's happening here, but we can't depend on anyone else to say it.  

Sometimes, it seems like everyone's pretending to live some sort of picture perfect, Facebook fake life. When really all we're building is an image of happiness and joy that isn't actually real. 

Maybe it's taken a cancer diagnosis for me to realize that. 

Maybe we should talk about it. 

Because now I know there is something more to life, something deeper than this world we regularly wake and work and live in. 

Exploring that part of life is a big part of being human and being alive. 

I'm done being Dr. C, and hopefully from now on, I'm simply Dr. Nikhil Joshi.

Thank you all so much.  

About the Author

Nikhil Joshi

Dr. 'C'

Nikhil Joshi is a St. John's physician. His award-winning series on dealing with his cancer diagnosis appeared in 2013 and 2014.

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