If one word were to sum up everything that Amit Vaidya stands for today – it is the quest for acquiring and sharing knowledge. Always finding room to learn through his rich experiences and unique circumstances, Amit has lived his life as proof – to accept and achieve and thus to inspire.
As a cancer survivor who reversed his destiny from stage IV to remission, Amit has taken a journey that many have been unable to return from successfully. It is his will, his spirit and most importantly, that thirst for life and his building knowledge that provided him this second life. Over the past 10 years, Amit has served not just as a patient but as a caregiver and medical health advocate for others. He has thorough understanding and appreciation of both the allopathic and alternative therapy worlds. His knowledge of all things health-related from nutrition to diet to medicines to ailments and treatment options is unmatched. Today, he consults with patients from all wakes of life with a specialty for working with cancer and/or end-of-life patients and has even started his own NGO in India - Healing Vaidya (www.healingvaidya.org). While this role has become his mission, his education and professional background stem from the academic, entertainment and finance industries in the United States.
I woke up the other day with an all too familiar feeling. As I tried to map out my schedule, I thought about how much my day would cost. I opened my wallet and saw that I indeed did have enough to man...
There is nothing more aggravating and insulting to me then hearing proclamations by know-it-alls who claim "I have a cure for cancer", be it a doctor, a swami, a baba, a guruji, a former patient, a ra...
I don't watch Indian television. All the serials are the same, all the news channels are just screaming heads and all the movie and song channels have the same six songs/movies on loop. But then again...
I don't say this as an atheist or as a believer but as someone exploring the land of our vast country. Whenever I saw a temple, a dargah, a church, I noticed that while the property itself was always immaculate, the surrounding areas were bereft of nature. Instead they were surrounded by retail establishments set up to satiate the needs and demands of the faithful; often, I’d see garbage piled up, generally comprising abandoned puja trays and the detritus of worship (among other things).
I was lucky that in my time spent with Jain monks, they did give me their attention. It was interesting to sit with them and see how my journey and theirs had so many parallels. We both had left our societal ties and commercial world in the pursuit of something greater. We had walked barefoot for countless miles, eating our meals between sunrise and sunset. But there was one drastic difference.
Gymming, affluence and image go hand in hand. But unlike most parts of the world where these are societal norms, in India it is a lifestyle many are striving for. So muddled in the image of bodybuilding and six-pack abs are Indian habits of countless cups of chai and cigarette after cigarette.
As I ran past the line-up of nude buttocks of men having their daily bowel movement, I saw the tide pick up and the water come to shore. Countless men quickly stood up from their squat positions and ran back further onto the beach. While I had seen their backsides, I now enjoyed a full view of their front as well. It is then that I noticed something that took me by surprise. Numerous men were sporting erections...
My mother and I spent years discussing how we wanted to die. It was prompted largely by my father's death. While he technically died on a Saturday morning, his life was over Thursday afternoon earlier that week. He waved to my mother who stood in tears as she waved back watching the hospital team wheel him away for his bypass surgery. He told her he'd see her in a few hours, completely confident that he would return to see her smiling face.
As I sat on the first floor of the guest house in Chennai, looking outside my window and seeing the water levels rise, the number of cars travelling across the street go down and the stillness of the water now quickly becoming covered with moving trash, I paid particular attention to the locals walking by. There were smiles, there was laughing, there was friendship.
To all my beef-eating Hindu brothers and sisters (I have not written to friends of other faiths because I don't think it's my place to judge their traditions), this is a letter I hope you take to heart. I am not going to write about why meat is bad for you or that it is not Hindu to consume it. Instead, I'm writing on behalf of the many cows that saved me and gave me a second life.
When having an orgasm, our heart beats faster and our breathing speeds up and gets heavier. I'd like to know one cancer patient that does not experience this feeling upon hearing their diagnosis. Or while waiting for their scan results? When having to make plans for their end-of-life care? When thinking about legacy and what they will leave behind? But these are points of stress -- where is the pleasure? Well, that's a choice we make.
My memoir Holy Cancer: How A Cow Saved My Life chronicles my journey after a cancer diagnosis. Given six months to live and no immediate family to support me, I ventured on a path less taken and explored alternative treatments throughout India for my metastatic stage IV cancer diagnosis. The journey started as a prelude to my death but ended up giving me a second life. This excerpt from my book is a story about resilience, believing in oneself, trusting in humanity and not letting judgment stop anyone from trying anything.
Over the past 12 months, I've worked my way back into civilisation with a very real goal -- to publish my book. I'm thankful that after a tumultuous journey, this month, my memoir Holy Cancer: How A Cow Saved My Life is finally releasing. In the past year, I've had to constantly reflect, reaffirm and reflect again on these years that my book highlights.
Recently a shrink friend of mine forwarded me a message revealing the top 10 most successful "gurus" in India. They were ranked based on their number of followers and their net worth. Spirituality has become big business where we get to pick and choose our leaders. Besides, unlike trying to get into a college, there is no stress in applying for a programme - you can be pretty sure you'll get admission. Perhaps that is what makes shopping for spirituality so mentally satisfying.
Recently a friend tending to his cancer-stricken father requested me to create a cheat-sheet for him -- a one-page list of what to expect and how to understand a diagnosis of cancer. I replied that the journey of every patient is different. Providing knowledge is the better solution rather than giving an answer that may or may not be suitable. Nevertheless, the conversation did spark in me the need to address caregivers around the world. This is my list of the top 10 things that every caregiver needs to know.
Anxiety affects the best of us. As much as we try to stay calm, meditate and find avenues to learn to relax, we often fall prey to this vicious beast. For all the external agents that exist almost custom made to affect us, there is a lifejacket that shields us from drowning -- our internal balancing board.