Irrfan Khan said that battling cancer has taught him “surrender and trust” in an interview to the Times of India newspaper. In March, Khan was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour, which affects the hormonal and nervous systems. He has been undergoing treatment in London since the diagnosis.
The actor said that he was rocked by the suddenness of his diagnosis and its consequences. “The suddenness made me realise how you are just a cork floating in the ocean with UNPREDICTABLE currents! And you are desperately trying to control it,” he said.
Khan added that the treatment was more unpredictable because his condition is rare. “It’s been quite some time now since I have been diagnosed with a high-grade neuroendocrine cancer. This new name in my vocabulary, I got to know, was rare, and due to fewer study cases, and less information comparatively, the unpredictability of the treatment was more. I was part of a trial-and-error game,” he said.
Khan said that he told his son that he didn’t want to succumb to fear and panic while facing his crisis. “That was my INTENTION. AND THEN PAIN HIT. As if all this while, you were just getting to know pain, and now you know his nature and his intensity. Nothing was working; NO consolation, no motivation. The entire cosmos becomes one at that moment – just PAIN, and pain felt more enormous than GOD,” Khan said.
The actor said that his pain numbed him to external realities and he barely realised that his hospital was located near the Lord’s Cricket Ground, which he described as the “Mecca” of his childhood dreams. “This hospital also had a coma ward right above me,” he said. “Once, while standing on the balcony of my hospital room, the peculiarity jolted me. Between the game of life and the game of death, there is just a road. On one side, a hospital, on the other, a stadium. As if one isn’t part of anything which might claim certainty – neither the hospital, nor the stadium. That hit me hard.”
Khan said that the hospital’s location led to an epiphany of sorts. “The peculiarity of MY hospital’s location – it HIT me. The only thing certain was the uncertainty. All I could do was to realise my strength and play my game better,” he said.
The realisation calmed Khan, he said. “This realisation made me submit, surrender and trust, irrespective of the outcome, irrespective of where this takes me, eight months from now, or four months from now, or two years. The concerns took a back seat and started to fade and kind of went out of my mindspace,” he said.
He also mentioned the people who have been praying for his recovery. “Throughout my journey, people have been wishing me well, praying for me, from all over the world. People I know, people I don’t even know. They were praying from different places, different time zones, and I feel all their prayers become ONE. One big force, like a force of current, which got inside me through the end of my spine and has germinated through the crown of my head,” he said.