Life has been weirdly wonderful. I haven’t updated my Cancer Talk section in a long time, partly because I just don’t wanna talk about cancer right now. But I will tell you this, the result of my transplant wasn’t as good as I hoped but it wasn’t a total fail either. I have to continue my treatment for another 6 months, but not chemo or radiation. The treatment is once a month, a two hours antibody infusion. It’s not painful at all, very fast and I can go back home after the infusion. I call this infusion my superpower recharge.
So what to do during those period at home? I feel well enough now to do activities (though not for a full day), but what activities can I do? I have no job, I cannot travel like I used to anymore, I feel like standing in the ruins of my life. I can’t just not do anything at home, it would be too boring for me and possibly stress me out. I am a person who actually likes being busy.
When I came back home after the transplant, I was happy to be back home. However, after a while it was easy to drown in my own sorrow, to feel sorry for being in this condition, to see all my friends thrive while I was stuck. I didn’t want to feel this way and so I decided to pick up the pieces of my life. I may not have the life that I imagined I had at this age, but I refuse to be useless and pity myself.
Two years ago when I was still doing oral chemotherapy, I started making pouches. At that time I used my sister’s brand. However my sister is no longer using that brand and I stopped making pouches when I had to be in KL for my treatment. I decided it was time to start making pouches again and for a rebrand.
Art has always been my therapy from the start. I love colouring books and I started doing watercolour patterns. I thought these patterns would look good on a fabric, and so I printed them on fabrics. Those fabrics would then be turned into pouches with the help of my mum. I was hesitant at first in selling my pouches, I mean I don’t have an art degree, I’m just someone who loves art, but my parents encouraged me anyway.
I made a new brand called Astanya, a Javanese word where “asta” means hands and “astanya” means his/her hands as everything we do starting from the design to the packing were done with our hands (and also the help of other people’s hands). I also believe that I couldn’t have done all this without His hands. My dad actually thought of the name and I immediately felt a bond to it.
In the beginning I was afraid the people who knew my pouches before would not like this new version I was creating. People were used to my hand painted pouches (the hand painted ones took too long to produce, and often inconsistent, which resulted in me being super exhausted and a lot of wasted fabrics), so I don’t know how they will like this version. Also, a thousand things ran through my mind, like “will people buy it?”, “what if no one buys my pouches?”, “what if they absolutely hate it?”.
My dear parents and sister told me to chill. They reminded me that this was an activity that was supposed to take my mind off my cancer treatment, so I shouldn’t be stressed out about it. They still need to remind me every now and then, but I am so glad they have my back. Also, after a few encouragements from my close friends and some positive feedback from friends in the blogosphere (you know who you are :D, you guys are the best!), I started getting orders!
I don’t mass produce my pouches since I want to keep the uniqueness of each design. Sometimes I also have to limit the production because I still have to go back to KL every month, but this activity has certainly helped me get my life back.
I love picking up my brushes and playing with colours, I rarely do any black or grey colours as I really want to have bright designs. I strongly believe in the power of colours and its impact to your mood. This was something even I was surprised at since before I was a very black and grey and white girl – I rarely owned any bright coloured piece of clothing.
I have also started doing yoga, I usually practise yin yoga. Meditation has helped me a lot. Yoga has helped me to respect and love my body, to do everything mindfully. I never expected to like yoga so much since I am a person who cannot sit still!
I go out for coffee (or ramen!) with my friends, which is an achievement on its own. I used to be so weak that I couldn’t go out and I was so ashamed of myself that I didn’t want to interact with other people. I pushed all that aside and started contacting my friends in Jogja. When they offered to meet up, I thought “why not?”.
I dislike going to KL every month but I have to do it. I am grateful that I have friends who welcome me in KL with open arms, often I even stay at their place. They would always take me out for meals and we have a great time, this certainly takes my mind off the two hours I have to spend in the hospital.
I never thought that I would have my own small business, and yet life took an unexpected turn and here I am. I am picking up the pieces of my life, it’s hard, sometimes I feel like I can’t do it or unsatisfied with what I have achieved and it’s normal to feel so but I’m getting there.
P.S. If you’d like to see my pouches you can visit Astanya’s Instagram or our Tokopedia shop 😀 For those who are not in Indonesia, a friend told me about Society6 and I also have a shop there though I am still in process uploading all the designs 😀