Shreshtha Mittal (Breast Cancer): Thank you cancer, for healing me

My journey started in June 2019, when I detected a small lump in my left breast, but I ignored it, thinking that I cannot have Breast Cancer since I was too young, absolutely fit, and my family does not have any history of cancer.

Breast Cancer Diagnosis

After three months, I visited my dermatologist for a routine visit, and I pointed out to her the lump in my left breast that was increasing in size. She immediately did a physical examination, and the look on her face startled me because she looked worried. She asked to get my sono-mammogram done immediately. The urgency made me rush to get the test done. The radiologist could detect something, and once the reports came, it was something of the highest grade and multiplying fast. I asked the radiologist what it was, and she asked me to meet the onco-surgeon.

I went back home with the reports thinking it might be wrong and that I could never get such a bad report card. I shared the reports with my husband and the family. We very conveniently on our dining table, rejected the reports. However, the seed of doubt was planted in our minds, so we thought we would meet the onco-surgeon.

When I searched for an onco-surgeon, I messaged in our society groups, and within twenty minutes, I got three references for onco-surgeons who deal with cancer. I connected with the family who referred the doctor to us and got to know that there was a Breast Cancer survivor in my society. They connected us to the doctor, and we are very grateful for it.

The doctor did a physical examination, and he thought that it was a very small lump. He asked for the biopsy, and it looked like it was stage 1 Breast Cancer. The doctor asked us to get a PET scan done to know if it has spread to any other organ to be on the safer side. When he saw the PET scan reports, he said it has not spread, but it looks like stage 2 Breast Cancer. Every day, a new diagnostic test was affirming us that the lump was cancerous.

I decided that come what may, whether I survive or not, I will ensure that I am living each and every day to the fullest and giving my best to the fight. Hence, I was able to withstand the new surprises the cancer journey was bringing to us.

My husband was there with me. We met the survivor’s family, and they helped us a lot in feeling better. My father-in-law was accompanying us on the doctor’s visit. My mother-in-law and bhua-in-law were home, and it was difficult for them to absorb the cancer news, but when it got confirmed, they cried a lot. I decided that I will not cry in front of my family because that will make them feel weak. I also told them that I didn’t want them to cry and give our best to the fight.

My parents were unaware of this news, and when we called and informed them about the Breast Cancer diagnosis, my father’s face fell, and my mother went away from the camera because she could not hold back her tears. I told them that I did not want them to cry because their strength will make me survive. They all agreed in silence, and till the very end, they all give a very tough fight against cancer, and I am really proud of my family.

After my lumpectomy, my histopath report revealed that it was stage 3 breast cancer, and ER-PR negative and HER 2 positive.

Breast Cancer Treatment

I was given Chemotherapy for six months. After that, my radiation started, and parallelly, my Targeted therapy was on for one year, wherein I was going for a drug infusion every 21 days.

In November 2020, I completed my treatment, and reports said that there was no trace of cancer and I just needed to go for follow-ups regularly.

The lymph nodes were removed with the lumpectomy, and I had limitations that I cannot lift more than 5 kg, should not get bruises or mosquito bites in the hand because it would swell up. There was a Pain in my legs, and I used to feel extremely nauseous and weak. I had hair fall in my second cycle of chemotherapy, so I got my head shaved because I had a baby at home and didn’t want any mess at home. Because of the drugs, I could not sleep well at night, and sleeping became a challenge. During radiation, I had fatigue, darkness in the area where the radiation was given and Pain in the breast.

Conversation with Breast Cancer winner Shreshtha Mittal
Conversation with Breast Cancer winner Shreshtha Mittal
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There is a lot of emotional turmoil that happens during the treatment. We need to connect with our loved ones, share what is bothering us and get over it. Sharing has a healing effect. I wrote blogs during my cancer journey, and I discovered the writer in me. It was a medium for me to vent out whatever I was going through or whatever emotional trauma I had. It started like that, but once I started publishing my blogs, they got accepted so well by the world that it gave me a lot of encouragement and once I saw it was benefiting others, that itself was healing me.

My Son was my Motivation

One of the biggest things that made me happy was having my kid with me. Being a mother of a two-year-old kid, I did not want my kid to get ignored during the journey I was going through because, as a child, he needs a lot of care and attention. His presence turned out to be a boon for me, and it was because of his presence that I could sail through this journey. His happy face and smile used to make me forget all the Pain I had. My husband ensured that even after coming from the office, he is spending sufficient time daily because I could not give him time so that his learnings and milestones were not suffering. Me being unwell made my husband and son’s bond stronger.

Life Lessons

I learned a lot of lessons on my cancer journey. I am working on a manuscript and looking forward to publishing a book that will talk about the lessons I have learned on my cancer journey.

Cancer came as a teacher and gave me so many life lessons. They say, “our fate is decided by our higher power, but our destiny is decided by the choices and decisions that we make, and cancer really showed me that. My fate gave me cancer but how I take the entire journey was completely my choice and decision. Cancer taught me that whatever challenge you have, you always have that decision in your hands.

Parting Message

Begin with the end in mind, even if you are in palliative care and the doctor has told you that it’s hard, but even then, you have a choice of how you want to be remembered once you are on the death bed. I decided that whatever may come, I would not regret anything once I am on the death bed, even if it comes after years or just after a month.

Connect more with yourself, and your only focus should be on doing what you like doing. Express gratitude, feel happy about the smallest good things happening in your life. Energy flows where our attention goes, so if you want to invite positivity, then focus on positive things.

Give your best each and every day. Caregivers should take care of themselves, don’t be too harsh on yourself while taking care of your loved ones. To support your loved ones, you first need to be in a healthy state.

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