Three weeks ago, our family received news for which we were completely unprepared. My wife Insiya was diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer, Stage 3.
As difficult as it seems now, we would like to share Insiya’s healing journey with you in hopes that we can help and inspire others with cancer and other health challenges. We’d also love to hear your stories of healing and recovery and hope to help us all see the light at the end of the tunnel. To connect with our community, please join this private Facebook group where we will share comments, prayers and stories. And if you want to donate this is the link. Insiya’s treatments are going to last one year.
You can use the hashtag #healinsiya on social
We appraise your love.
How it all began:
We have one son, who is now 11. After he was born, my wife’s iron stores were dangerously low. As a dedicated yogi who embraced vegetarianism, she struggled to eat meat but began to while she was carrying our son; and she delivered a healthy and beautiful baby boy.
When she described her symptoms to the doctor, the doctor looked at her overall health – her blood markers were all normal (except the low iron); and suggested strongly that the problem was just hemorrhoids. She told Insiya to eat more fiber and stay active (all things that were very much a part of Insiya’s life already). According to the doctor, here was an active, healthy 41-year-old woman who took no medications. There was no need to be alarmed.
When Insiya told me the news, I knew she was relieved. The prospect of a colonoscopy had scared her, and it was reassuring to be told it was just hemorrhoids. We closed that chapter, and Insiya continued trying to alleviate stomach sensitivities through her diet. She gave up gluten, dairy, alcohol and sugar; and ate a simple, ayurvedic whole foods diet as much as possible.
Fast forward to the summer of 2021. Our family spent the pandemic in Bali, Indonesia. We were there teaching a yoga training and then a retreat in February and March of 2020, when our flights home got cancelled.
I embraced Bali life. We worked hard, but I could get into the ocean daily for a surf, which was my manna. However, Insiya’s health deteriorated. She experienced multiple rounds of Covid and a motorbike accident. She complained of feeling fatigued and would often fall ill with colds. Her stomach felt bloated all the time. She saw acupuncturists, doctors, and healers and continued to practice yoga; and teach. Yet her face grew pale, and she began to lose weight, which showed quickly on her slight figure.
By 2021 we knew something was wrong. We just didn’t know what. We suspected an inflammatory bowel disease, perhaps Colitis, perhaps Crohns, perhaps even Long Covid, but not Cancer.
In July 2022, we finally made it home to Victoria, BC, a city where you cannot even get on a waitlist for a family doctor. After three weeks of calling, she got an appointment with a walk-in clinic doctor, who ordered some blood tests. He also told her that she was slight and that he could feel inflammation in her colon, but it was probably parasites.
The blood tests showed abnormally low heme iron stores; and very low blood hemoglobin. Her stool samples also showed way above normal signs of inflammation. Another doctor at the clinic put in a referral for a colonoscopy.
Summer was underway; my in-laws were visiting from India; I was traveling for work; the days were long and sunfilled, and life felt almost normal for a month.
Then on September 2; Insiya went in for the colonoscopy, a procedure she described as painless, though the prep leading up to it was awful!
At the hospital, after the procedure, the doctor didn’t mince any facts; he was kind yet clear. And yet seemed loathe to tell us that he had found an advanced, localized cancer.
Insiya was very calm at the news. She expressed relief that they had finally figured out what was wrong after so many months and years of feeling unwell. They wheeled her in for a CT scan right after.
Since that day, the past few weeks have felt surreal. We are slowly processing this news as a family. The diagnosis has pointed out to us some of the imbalances in our life: the intense pace at which we were living, trying to keep our work afloat during the pandemic, and has forced Insiya to stop working at her regular pace.
We met with her surgeon this week. He told us the cancer is moving towards the local/regional lymph nodes, but we should not worry as this type of cancer moves very slowly. He continued to say they would most likely take out her uterus and cervix during the surgery, but first, they would focus on radiation and chemotherapy to help shrink the tumor. This news was devastating to Insiya.
We are not sure what the next few months will look like. We already know that Insiya’s life will be filled with lab and hospital visits; she will have to focus on making her own health a priority. This is hard for her. She is a devoted mother; and the glue that keeps our family together. She has also been my trusted advisor on our yoga and wellness business Blissology, but she has not been able to work at her regular pace since feeling unwell.