West Chicago, Illinois
Ruthvik is a University of Illinois student from West Chicago. Ruthvik’s close friend, Amit Thawaney, passed away from cancer last year. Amit had struggled with cancer in the past and told friends he would be back to school in a few months. Despite Amit’s outer strength, Ruthvik could see him struggling on the inside and knew he needed help. Ruthvik’s offering of support mirrors that of many caregivers.
I am not a cancer patient myself, but I was close to my friend--he struggled with cancer and passed away just this year. It was really difficult for me. I kind of was at a loss for words.
It was my Junior year, he had been fine the first half of the fall semester and then he started having some trouble eating, so he had gone home to take some tests. He had assured me before that, “I’ll be fine, I’ll be back,” and we talked online while he was home. One of the times [we talked] online, he just came out and said, “You know, I have something serious to tell you.” He kind of just put it out there that he got diagnosed with cancer again.
I was just at a loss for words because I didn’t have that personal experience of what he would be going through in life, how he was feeling at this time. So, I kind of just talked him through it – “Are you going to be fine? Are you going to be in treatment?”
Any type of difficult situation always strengthens the bonds between you and your friends, and I think once this happened, I kind of got to see all that we value in our friendship. Before, you sometimes take those things for granted and then once you’re not able to be with them, when you don’t see them everyday and talk with them, you go back and think about all the great memories you had together.
I think having that trust between us was one of our greatest qualities and really helped both of us mutually to get along with our lives. We used to support each other during good times and bad times.
I think through these stories, they kind of really show the type of person (my friend) was. The type of qualities that possessed him--he was definitely a caring person.
He was that type of person that, he always had that inner strength in him. He tried to not let other people know that he was facing these struggles and he tried to keep everything positive, saying “You know, I’ll be back within a few months, don’t worry about it” and kind of just played it off, threw some jokes in there.
I think, when it came around to this third [diagnosis], I’m sure he was definitely questioning himself--like why would it have to happen to him? But I think, then again, he also took that and turned it... and kind of said, “Okay, then if it has to happen to me, then (I) really wanna make others who have a better life [to improve their life].” So he always stuck with me and tried to positively influence my life as best as he could.
One thing he has definitely taught me—a thing I will never forget—is to let nothing ever hold me back from what I want to achieve. That kind of goes for anybody—just go for it. There is nothing that is going to stop you as long as you have the heart to go for it.