It was the spring of 2015, I had just landed a new job which could widen my career prospects in the financial sector. My dream was to become a successful research analyst in the field of investment banking. I was moving forward with the hope that I might be able to enjoy a stable life with a successful career, but who knew what was waiting for me as I stumbled into a pit of confusion. I was developing intense fever, weakness, bone pain, and terrible loose motion. After numerous follow up, a special blood test from a foreign lab showed the composition of Leukaemia. It was cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue, usually the bone marrow or from overproduction of abnormal white blood cells.
I was 30, had an MBA degree, and a well-paid job; I was at the edge of starting my career when the diagnosis came in. The revelation was a wake-up call, both for me and my family. The life I had hoped for suddenly turned miserable and obscure. I realized it might be time to bid the world goodbye. However, in another corner of my heart, I had a deep positive vibration that I shouldn’t give up. The story shouldn’t end at 30. It isn’t the right time to leave. I have a long life ahead.
The 18 months of treatment that followed were unforgiving and gruesome. Baldhead, extreme weight loss, swollen body, low visibility, devastating complexion were some of the dark sides of chemotherapy treatment. I felt the boundaries of my body break as if everything was falling apart. But I wanted to live, live beyond my 30s. And I kept that greedy instinct alive till I was finally able to beat the cancer cells. We need to keep pushing, scrapping, and clawing to defeat it. Cancer taught me not to identify myself as a victim or patient, but rather as a student learning deep life lessons.
After regaining my strength, in 2018, I began searching for learning opportunities. I noticed the banner of Toastmasters at Crust Pizza Restaurant, Baneshwor and did a quick internet search. I learned that it would be the best place to find a better version of myself. I found a club close to home and after attending a few meetings, I realized this was a way for people to learn about who I am, and for me to find my voice.
As a result of the challenges I had faced, I didn’t consider myself retired from life or learning. I joined the club to blend multiple skills. In my first table topic speech, I did not have the nerve to speak for even 45 seconds. My mind went blank and I ended up apologizing to the Table Topics Master and the audience. Despite the poor performance, I received encouragement from experienced Toastmasters. I came face to face with the beauty of Toastmasters – learning and improving.
After delivering a few table topics, I received the first award of Better Table Topic Speaker. While the achievement might be small, it fueled me with confidence and commitment to do better. Earlier, I had difficulty expressing my thoughts but with time I can feel the improvement. I overcame the obstacles by winning a couple of Better Featured Speaker awards. I had the same attitude in defeating cancer, I try to learn new things that I didn’t know and it fills me with joy. Now when I speak, I genuinely hope for my attitude and actions to inspire people to recover from hard times and attain learning in the process.
It’s a great honor for me to live and cherish this beautiful life. We often focus on our limitations, and I believe that is the real limitation. Life is all about exploring and believing in our potential. You don’t know which moment can be a game-changer in your life.
Presently, I am under-post remission stage, taking drugs every day to survive. Things seem to be better. I am fit, stable, working 8 hrs a day, and learning through club meetings every week. It’s like coming back to life.
Deepak Luitel, Baneshwor Toastmasters Club
Published in Inkspire Issue 1, Sept 2019.Click here for the full newsletter.