Imran khan! A name that resonates strong underlying connotations, but behind is a complex amalgamation of years and years of traditional, religious, social, moral, political and economical norms that have so deeply contributed in shaping this person into who he is today.
Such fleeting moments in a monotonous day can become so meaningful in its own way. While I hailed an NYC taxi and shamefully got in almost 2 seconds later, because I was breaking my promise to avoid taxis as much as possible, I decided to have a conversation with the driver. And who would have thought, Imran khan was from Pakistan!!! Our conversation of course inevitably led to what the hell both of us were doing in New York, one from Lahore and the other from Bangalore. “I fell in love with the enemy” he said, such an appropriate statement that clearly depicts our dreaded political and social situation. He came to New York for a holiday and instead fell in love with an Indian woman from Punjab. He then remained here for the next 30 years. I of course had a different story to tell about cancer rehabilitation and exercise, which made him mention to me about how he had lost his daughter-in-law four years ago to colon cancer. She was diagnosed at the end stage with almost no symptoms. Having just attended a lecture on colon cancer a few days ago, I knew the strong possibility of this occurring.
Colon cancer is rare in younger people and often comes with no symptoms. Those above the age of 50 are urged to have regular colon screenings or colonoscopies. Those under the age of 50 with family history or other risk factors related to colorectal cancer, should speak with their doctor about when to start screening. How unfortunate to be diagnosed with an illness that is rare for people like you? But this rarity is becoming more and more frequent now. Childhood cancer is a growing epidemic and leading cause of death amongst children between the ages of 1 and 14 years in the United States.
He went on to tell me how he lost five family members in the last couple of years, mostly from preventable diseases. I feel indescribable amount of anger when I hear stories such as these, not because people are undervaluing the importance of living a healthy life, but because the information being fed to us every single day is so close to deceitful and deceptive that almost always guarantees such outcomes. Such as colon cancer which is strongly linked to dietary factors! Also I must admit I have debated with many people about being able to go healthy without spending the extra buck. But the truth is I have been in New York for over a month now and only buying organic produce, which has undoubtedly made me cut back on other expenditures. But not everyone is willing to do that and is clearly not. I’m not saying that you can’t be healthy without spending too much because you can of course, but if you want to go the complete organic way and truly avoid the pesticides and other such poisons drowning our produce today, it is not the easiest to do so. Why? Because the commercial crap sold everywhere is where the money is. We are in a viscous cycle. Only when we decide to begin changing our behaviours, will the rest of the world follow.
Just like my best friend turning vegetarian for ethical reasons, just like Adam Braun who was well on his way to wall street and instead gave it all up to create the non-profit Pencils of Promise with $25, just like my mother who quietly supported a number of children around India, just like the stranger next to me who politely offered his seat so I could sit with my overflowing baggage, just like the five super successful highflying New York socialites I spent the evening with who are using their extremely generous lifestyle to put up a damn good fight in eradicating breast cancer, just like the homeless person down my street who never fails to give me the biggest smile and brightest hello every single day and just like Imran khan’s 12 year old granddaughter who saw her mother suffer and lose her battle to colon cancer and now dreams of being an oncologist.
Don’t fear to make changes, don’t fear to step out of the comfort zone, don’t fear to face your fear head on because one of the mistakes you fear might just be the link to your greatest achievement yet.