Dr Gauri Bhatnagar (Breast Cancer): “Remember me as a striver.”

Dr Gauri breast cancer survivor

Diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2015, my treatment started in the new year. My surgery took place on 1st January, and I underwent 28 cycles of radiotherapy and 8 sessions of chemotherapy. Initially, the diagnosis was on the right side of my body. However, I felt a sharp pain on the left side in December 2016, and my lesion was kept on a close watch. When the lesion exhibited changes in 2018, I underwent a lumpectomy. Presently, I need to take a monthly injection that helps my body to suppress the production of hormones. So, what mainly happened was that the various hormones in my body fuelled my breast tumor.

Additionally, I take tablets to stop hormone production in any tissues. What many of us do not know is that hormones in the body can also be a direct result of the different foods we consume. Thus, I have taken every possible step to protect myself

A pervasive question that many people ask me is what else did I do to accelerate my recovery. Well, one of the most effective treatments was pranic healing. Even after my successful surgery and cancer recovery, I experienced immense pain. At times, basic activities such as breathing and swallowing food would also seem Herculean. In such a situation, pranic healing played a major role in relieving my stress and body aches.

I took professional training and now continue to practice it at home. Moreover, personal research on lifestyle changes has also helped me excel. While I was undergoing treatment, I realized several flaws in the medical system. Being from the healing profession myself, I was quickly able to grasp how tumors develop and affect the body. But, thinking from a layman’s perspective, I feel that doctors must give more time to patients and explain the changes happening in their bodies. The sufferer must have a support team. Moreover, there is zero psychological counseling to help the patients cope with treatment side-effects and changes. For example, I experienced severe bone pain because my treatment depended on my bone marrow. Yet, I was uninformed of it, and I was under the impression that it is a side-effect of chemotherapy. You see, this is vital information that can prepare a patient for what to expect and make them stronger, both mentally and physically. Last but not least, each hospital must have a cancer-specialist dietician who can give a list of correct dos and don’ts to each patient.

Both my husband and I are dentists. I have a young daughter who was three and a half years old at the time of diagnosis and treatment. It was very challenging to stay away from my daughter, who was utterly dependent on me. That is when I sought help from my mother, and she selflessly looked after all of us. Undoubtedly, my breast cancer treatment and ill-health have taken a toll on my work. I entirely avoid radiographic exposure at work and focus more on myself before my clients. It is surprising when visitors exclaim that how can a doctor get breast cancer. It seems such a necessity to remind them that doctors are also humans!

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was unable to accept that a health-driven working woman like me could develop malignant cells in my body. But in retrospect, I realize that irregular working hours deprived my diet of the essential nutrients. Moreover, I was under severe stress from the past one or two years regarding different personal issues. Presently, I take supplements such as turmeric, immunity boosters, probiotic, and vitamin D. Instead of consuming wheat and gluten, I have increased the intake of millets and whole grains. One food item to altogether avoid is white refined sugar and jaggery. Instead of that, it seems a great idea to opt for coconut sugar. I use it even when I am trying different desserts at home!

 

I do not use regular oil and ghee when cooking daily meals at home. Instead, I have switched over to cold-pressed mustard and olive oil, and coconut oil. Believing in natural therapy, I incorporate juices and green vegetables into our routines.

My biggest motivation to get well faster was my daughter. All I wanted was to heal as soon as possible and be there by her side. Around six months before my diagnosis, I had started practicing Buddhism. It gave me a lot of strength and courage to come to terms with my problems, and I took it in my stride. I read intensively and immersed myself in growing intellectually. Out of those, some of the most remarkable books were Richard Causton’s The Buddha In Daily Life and The Power of The Subconscious Mind.  I learned how to transform my karma in a better way, and the effects your mind can have on your body. Moreover, my previous healthy lifestyle also helped me to respond better to my treatment.

I want to educate all breast cancer patients that “cancer” is only a word and not a death sentence. It should not be treated as a definite termination. Instead, you must focus on ways to heal. When I was undergoing painful chemo sessions, I never thought that we are killing the cancer cells. I always pictured that I am transforming some malnourished cells into healthy ones. It helped me remain positive.

Dr-Gauri- breast cancer survivor

Similarly, you must not rush into the healing or normalcy process. You must give adequate time to your body to feel better and adapt. Please remember that the tumor is only 2-5% of your body that the doctors can remove. But the rest is totally how you look after it.