14 November 2019

Teaching helps me deal with my cancer

Santlesh Mehra at her school
By Santlesh Mehra

When I chose to become a teacher, it was mainly because of the comfortable work timings and stability that this job offered. But over the years it became my passion, such an integral part of my life.  

I always did my work with sincerity—I would take the syllabus seriously, ensure that the children in my class are learning. But I was a ‘strict’ teacher and children never showed their affection to me as they would to the other more friendly teachers.

I realised how much I like to be in my class, to be among children, when  in 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to take a long leave for my treatment. I survived cancer but my days, I felt, were empty.

I missed being among children—their chitter-chatter, their laughter and positivity. And I longed to join back. When I finally did, I felt so much better. When I teach my children at school, I innovate. I try and solve problems. I clear their doubts. I come up with processes and protocols that can improve my classroom transactions. My family feels I recovered much faster after I started teaching again. 

I missed being among children—their chitter-chatter, their laughter and positivity. And I longed to join back. When I finally did, I felt so much better. When I teach my children at school, I innovate. I try and solve problems. I clear their doubts. I come up with processes and protocols that can improve my classroom transactions. My family feels I recovered much faster after I started teaching again. 

I suffered another setback on the health front after a few years—my cancer came back and spread into my lungs, bones, and brain. It was a tough time; my family wanted me to concentrate on myself and leave my job. But I knew that it was not just a job, it was a source of much-needed strength. My children at school diverted my mind. I engage myself in so many constructive activities at school. With kids, I would sing and dance and play. I will live every moment of my life.

So, I decided to carry on with my work. I have learnt to face each day as it comes; my students help me live it to the fullest. Teaching has such a therapeutic effect on me.

(The writer works at a primary school in Gurgaon. Views expressed are her personal)