Good morning and happy Friday! It’s always a treat when I get to host someone I’ve known for a loooooong time – and today that someone is Rishma Dhalla. One of my earliest memories of Rishma is of a vibrant teenager, the older sister of a friend of mine; someone much too cool to be my friend (in my eyes), but always sweet and kind. Rish and I became better acquainted as adults when we lived close to each other and shared similar experiences.
It’s funny the people you remember being there when major incidents occur. When my daughter was born, when my father-in-law passed away, when my mom was at her last days and when she passed, Rish was there. As she shares in her interview today, she doesn’t believe in coincidences. I don’t, either. And often, over the last couple years as I have learned so much from observing Rishma’s transformation through cancer, I’ve wondered if perhaps it was planned this way: that she and I would grow up always connected by something and then brought closer together when we needed it.
We have all been touched by cancer in one way or another; Rish’s messages give me some peace that blessings really can be found in the toughest situations.
Without further ado, here’s Rishma!
Can you tell us a little bit about what your life was like before you received the diagnosis of breast cancer? In particular, what was your relationship with your Self/Soul?
Hi Taslim, thank you so much for inviting me to be a guest on your blog!
BC (before cancer) I was like most people – busy working all hours of the day to earn money to provide material things for our family. My body was not happy with this, though, and it was working really hard to warn me that I needed to slow things down. My Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) was flaring up more frequently; I was having severely heavy bleeding during my menstrual cycles; I had just been diagnosed with having an ovarian cyst; and my migraines were increasing in frequency.
My relationship with my self/soul has been off and on throughout my life. I have always believed in a higher power; I have always believed in serving others and being thankful. However, it is so easy to allow the material world to overtake your time, energy, and effort. This is where I was at BC.
Throughout the treatments, how did your relationship with your Self/Soul change?
My greatest evolution as a human occurred during my treatments. It was a time of deep reflection, a time of clarity – a time of TIME.
I learned about forgiveness – how important it is to forgive yourself first; then forgive others. Holding on to anger, resentment, ill will – it only causes damage to your soul. Learn to let go, sincerely let go – make peace with those who may have hurt you. Make peace with yourself if you have hurt others. Move forward knowing that your experiences brought you to where you are right now.
I learned about gratitude. Being thankful for all the blessings around you RIGHT NOW. Not waiting until you lose a few lbs or get that promotion or drive a better car or put your children in a better school. NOW. Be grateful now for every single blessing in your life. Your health, your family, your home, your friends, your career, the sun, the flowers, the animals, the mountains, the lakes….you get the drift. Everything. Once you are truly grateful for what you have been blessed with at this very moment, you will be able to move forward and see even more blessings surround you.
I learned about humility. My hair was my “identity” – lovely, luscious black curly hair. Being bald was about the deepest hole I’ve ever been in. But through the love and support of my family and friends, I realized how little my physical reflection has to do with who I am on the inside.
I learned that I am loved. By God, by the Universe. I have never been, nor will I ever be, alone. He is always with me, sending examples of His love through what we call “coincidences”. There are no coincidences. I believe every thought, every event, every moment has been planned out for the very best growth of our soul. I learned that I am worthy of His love, and therefore worthy of my own love.
My relationship with my soul flourished during my treatments – growing ever stronger and ever more clear. This was achieved through meditation, as well as very candid conversations with God. If you ask, you will know.
Now that you are done with treatments and cancer-FREE, what is your new normal? What lenses do you wear when you see the world?
Oh what a fantastic question you have posed.
I see the world (not all the time, mind you, because I do forget from time to time) through the eyes of someone who knows that they have no right to judge. That judgement is reserved between a soul and their higher power. I see now that every soul has their own journey, and that my role in their journey (and vice versa) could be temporary, permanent, positive, or negative. We are all learning and growing here on this Earth.
I don’t “sweat the small stuff”. It’s amazing how much clarity there is in my priorities now. And, as a result, I feel joy in pretty much everything.
And finally, I have learned to surround myself with positive people. Skepticism drains my life energy; optimism builds it up.
What are 2 important messages that you’d like to share with us?
- If you seek negative, you will find negative. If you seek positive, you will find positive.
- Prayer is talking to God. Meditation is listening to God.
I place a lot of importance on legacy and really encourage people of all ages and stages to consider what it is that they’re leaving behind in this world. I want people to think about what their “I was here” is. What would you hope yours is?
I went through a lot of “soul searching” and asked myself this very question as I battled with the possibility of having a lot less time here than I was expecting.
There are 2 overarching lessons I have learned and would hope that I could live out, and leave as a legacy once I’m gone.
The first lesson is, “Have Faith”. Have faith that you are loved, guided, nurtured, and protected. Have faith that whatever you are enduring, it is through His grace that it is not worse. Through faith you will find inner peace, gratitude, strength, perseverance, calm, and truth.
The second lesson I would hope to leave is this, “Love is all there is”. Love each other, love yourself, love God. In love you will find forgiveness, compassion, humour, faith, persistence and understanding.
Those are some amazing messages and lessons that came through to you over these past couple of years! Is there anything else you’d like to share with us today?
I would not change my experience for anything. These last two years I have grown immensely as a human being and I no longer recognize myself at times!! When an unfortunate event occurs, I automatically practice gratitude, for I know in my heart that it could have always been worse. I’m so thankful to people like yourself who spread the message of joy, creativity, confidence, living life to the fullest – surrounding myself with positivity leads to ever more positivity. Thank you.
Thank you, Rishma, for sharing these important thoughts. I hope they bring peace and hope to you, dear Readers, and that you are inspired to live a life that brings you joy and fulfillment!
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Rishma Dhalla was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer at the age of 40. She went through all the treatment protocols – partial mastectomy, 8 cycles of chemotherapy, 25 cycles of radiation, and 17 cycles of Herceptin Therapy over the course of a year and a half. Rishma is married and has 2 boys – aged 14 and 10 when her journey began. She has learned life long lessons which she shares in her blog.
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Wonderful and very inspiring. We are proud of you Rishma!