Deepa Rachel ( Breast Cancer survivor)

When I got to know

I was turning 39 when the symptoms showed up. I felt a lump in my Breast. It was November 2019. I went to my gynecologist who asked me to do the Ultrasound. The reports showed that it’s just a  fibroadenoma.

I then noticed that it started growing. It was March and the lockdown had already started. Covid times had just begun. We thought of not going to the doctor at that time. In July we went to see the doctor. Reports showed that the tumor had grown 3 times. My gynecologist asked me to meet a breast surgeon who then asked for a series of test.

At first, the FNAC was done. It showed some symptoms of Cancer. We went to our friend Dr. Vineet Gupta who is an oncologist at Sakra Hospital. The tests and biopsy showed that it was Breast Cancer stage 2.

Maintaining everything

My son was 12 and my daughter was 7 years old at that time. Breaking the news to them wasn’t easy, we initially said I was unwell and needed some treatment but didn’t say it was cancer. Once my son came to know about chemo. He talked to my husband about it.Being the eldest, he responded very well.

Difficult times were 2-3 days after the chemotherapy. After that I was alright. I used to wake up early, exercise, finish my housework and go to the office. We wanted everything to be as normal as before so keeping to the schedule helped. My husband was my biggest strength throughout.

Treatment

Doctor asked me to go for 4 cycles of chemotherapy first and then the next 4 cycles. After the first 4 cycles we went for Ultrasound and the size of the tumor was very small. After that we again went for the next 4 cycles followed by surgery and radiation.

Dr. Vineet Gupta is a straightforward Doctor. When I look back at the most important thing that got me through, it was that we had complete faith and trust in him. It eliminated all the random googling, the second/ third opinions, unsolicited advice and alternate cures, and let us focus on getting through this phase.

We went ahead with the treatment that he suggested. By the time I was due for surgery, the tumor had vanished. Now I’m in remission and asked to do follow-ups.

Side effects of chemo

  • After the chemo, for the first 4 days I used to have pain in my body. But after 4 days it was all back to normal. I used to work, do exercise and live a normal life.
  • Chemo caused hair loss. In the first month of chemo I started losing my hair. The struggle was resisting the hair loss. Finally, a little over a month later, we decided to shave it off. My husband was shaving it off for me and the kids stood by my side, initially a few tears rolled down but when I looked at my self at the end, I like my new look. I carried off the bald look without any hesitation.

Mental and emotional health

Although I never questioned ‘Why Me’, there were times when it was tough, my husband, as the primary caregiver also had emotionally draining moments. My husband and I had a code for when either of us would go emotionally down and the other had to step up and be there for the other. The first few weeks was tough, but it kept getting better. Continuing with all aspects of day to day life was critical in keeping things normal.

For all other stakeholders like my parents, parents-in-law, family, my kids and at work, it was important that everything was normal. I went to work on all days, I exercised, I continued most of my day to day activities and they found solace in seeing me continue on with life as normal.

“Lack of awareness”

Women in India are not aware about Breast Cancer. Even if they got to know about it they are not willing to talk about it. Women don’t want to talk about this.  This is because of a lack of awareness. This could be changed by educating people about Cancer, mostly breast cancer. People should talk more about it and make others aware of it.

Moment to cherish-

There are times like those 4 days after the chemo, when I used to be in bed all the time, my husband would look after completely, even make my morning tea for me. He would be with me all the time. We have been together for 20 years now and it’s been 13 years since we are married. These times gave us a chance to bond more with each other. These are times I would cherish for life.

Suggestions-

For me, cancer wasn’t as scary as it is made out to be. It was largely manageable. The fight is mental and emotional more than physical, Fight with it, deal with it. It’s not the end. Don’t give it more value than it deserves.

ZenOnco.io It’s important to change the narrative, to enhance the people thinking about surviving, which you people are already doing. That is something really good.

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