Dinesh & Family
“The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.”
When life grabs you by the neck and thrusts you into the deepest troughs, when you’re constantly put through a series of tests that shake and weaken your core, when you feel like you’re hanging on an invisible thread threatening to snap, how do you find the willpower and strength to go on?
For Leukaemia survivor Dinesh Kumar, his force of life lies within his family and this is his story.
You know how some people have the ability to radiate positive aura and brighten up the lives of people around them? Well, Dinesh is one of those people. When we first met, his warm smile eased away any feelings of unfamiliarity and as he shared his story with us, we were drawn in by how this humble, unassuming family man was clouded with dreams of providing a brighter future for his close-knitted family of four.
A Love Story Beyond Borders||
Suba and Dinesh
A nostalgic trip down memory lane takes us back to 1999, where Dinesh told us about his arranged marriage with his wife of 13 years, Rajalakshmi, or Suba which he affectionately refers to her for short, his match made in heaven. Their love story was nothing short of melodramatic, transcending beyond borders via a long-distance relationship set in India where Suba called home then and Singapore, where Dinesh lived.
Love letters spanning over two years
Over the next two years, their love blossomed through the exchange of hundreds of handwritten love letters and long-distance phone calls. Dinesh chuckles as he reminisces how he once chalked up a hefty $600 phone bill on calls to Suba. Finally, in 2001, their love story came to live when Suba came down to Singapore to be his wife.
Sesaa Nandhinii & Nandhu
Fast forward to 2014, and Dinesh and Suba are now proud parents to their 12-year-old son, Nandhu and 8-year-old daughter, Sesaa Nandhinii. Mr Kumar’s love for his children glistened through his eyes, his face beaming with pride as he fondly spoke of Nandhu’s aspirations of becoming a pilot, little Sesaa Nandhinii’s love for indian dance and how both his pride and joys were excelling well in school.
Crushed Dreams, Lost Hope
And of Dinesh’s own aspirations? Currently a police coast guard specialising in the field of IT management, Dinesh shared that he once had big dreams of setting up his own IT business as his personal hobby revolves around helping others troubleshoot their computers, a dream that dissipated when life dealt him a heavy blow of being diagnosed with leukaemia in 2008.
It all started with blurry vision in his right eye and severe headaches that would last for days on end. Upon his wife’s insistence, Dinesh headed down for a check-up and the results left him crushed when he was diagnosed with leukaemia.
Taking the kids out for a cycle by the waterfront
Dinesh’s first thought was death, a one-way ticket out of this predicament. However, as a young father of 32 with a housewife and two toddlers to care for, Dinesh’s death wish was immediately replaced with thoughts of his family; what would happen to them if he was no longer around, how his babies were to grow up without a father figure and how the family would survive without its sole breadwinner.
Upon hearing the news and his worst fears confirmed, Dinesh vividly recalled how his wife fainted on the spot, his face pained up in anguish at the recollection of his state of helplessness back then.
Dinesh and family at the LLF Walkathon 2014
Ray of Hope
However, with his Doctor’s reassurance that the road to recovery would be achievable within two years, Dinesh and Suba decided to place their faith in his Doctor and adopted a positive outlook towards their plight. Thereafter, Dinesh was admitted for one month to start on treatment and he fondly recalled how he felt embraced by positivity and support throughout his hospital stay.
A Family’s Strength
Apart from the side effects which took a toll on him physically, Dinesh’s financials were strained without him holding the fort. However, Dinesh is grateful for his family’s unwavering support; his mother-in-law who specially flew over from India to help look after the children and whip up wholesome home-cooked dishes, a nutritional diet which Dinesh believes played a significant role in his route to recovery, his parents who helped to transport the food from his home to the hospital and Suba, who took it upon herself to find part-time employment as a nursery teacher despite never having been exposed to the working world before while shouldering the daily household responsibilities.
Dinesh and family before he was diagnosed with leukaemia
Dinesh tenderly mused over little Sesaa Nandhinii upon witnessing her father in a sickly state, declared her ambition of being a doctor when she grows up and how she made sure to be extra careful not to disrupt the needle placements when sleeping on daddy’s arm, her favourite naptime hideaway.
In October 2009, Dinesh received his stem cell transplant and has since been cancer-free for six years now. A new lease of life, Dinesh places a firm grip on his second chance at life, and told us how his perspective of life changed, his priorities realigned.
A Second Chance
Once a workaholic driven by making more money to provide material joys for his family, Dinesh now cuts a clear work-life balance, making sure he spends ample quality time with his family. He treasures every single moment with Nadhu and Sesaa Nandhinii, and no matter how tired he is from work, makes sure to take them out for outdoor activities, the sporty duo’s favourite past-time.
A shy person at heart, Dinesh overcame his introversion through his inclination towards helping people by sharing his journey with cancer via public speaking events and testimonials, as he hopes others in the same boat can learn from his experience and be better prepared on what to expect in their personal journey with cancer.
Sesaa Nandhinii & Nandhu all pumped up for a swim
However, his family remains his number one priority and Dinesh still clings on to dreams of providing his family with a better life. He is one step closer after having recently upgraded his house from a 3-room to 5-room flat and now harbours a growing ambition to be more adventurous in seeking out higher challenges, carpe diem (seize the day).
Love Conquers All
Dinesh’s words of advice? Find the willpower to fight the disease. Start by seeking out a personal motivational factor that will make the fight worth it so even at times when one feels like giving up, the motivation will continue to spur you on. He also stressed the importance of proper financial planning not just for the family, but for oneself, so as to be better prepared for the situation at hand.