Many times in life, we are thrown curveballs that can either make us or break us. We are so caught up with the monotonous lives we live; sometimes, it takes a shock to wake us up from the oblivion. Especially when we are in our youth, living our bachelor lives in college, we don’t let any worry of the world slow us down. At least I used to think so.
It was July of 2018 when our lives were turned upside down. My girlfriend Pooja left a lump in her breast, and we decided to visit the doctor and get a consultation as soon as possible. Shortly after that, she was diagnosed with stage 2, grade 3 breast cancer. I still remember the chill that went through my spine that day. We both cried that day as much as we could because we were adamant about fighting this beast and surviving. That was the last day any of us shed a tear. Luckily for me, Pooja has always been incredibly resilient and a fighter. We decided that we were going to catch the bull by its horns and survive this together.
The first step that was taken after the diagnosis was a surgical procedure. The surgery was to remove the benign mass of tissues, the mother lesion. After that, it was a daily visit to the doctor and innumerable hours on the internet, researching about treatment plans and ways to make this better for her. We prepared ourselves as much as we could, so we were always ready with questions and queries after all this was no time to take a backseat. We went from one hospital to another, looking for better doctors and treatment plans.
Apart from the current treatment plan we were taking, included 12 cycles of chemotherapy, 15 rounds of radiation, and eight cycles of targetted therapy, the one lifestyle change that we made for Pooja was her diet.
She was put on a more nutritious and balanced diet that included a lot of berries. They are high in antioxidants, and we came across a lot of articles that suggested including as much as berries, fresh fruits, and fiber-rich vegetables to fight the side effects and stress of all the radiation she was taking in.
They say miracles happen in this world too, and we saw one happening in front of our eyes. Some of the alums and alumni from our college in Mumbai made a kit link, that allowed them to create a fund and allowed people from our college and all over the world to donate and raise money for Pooja’s ongoing treatment. The link was active for three days, and we raised 8 lakh rupees! This was something that we had never imagined or thought of, but the beautiful people around us did, and we shall remain forever in debt to this kindness.
After we were done with Pooja’s treatment, we were left with some amount that we then decided to use for other patients in need that we met on this journey. I think it was only fair that we spread the kindness that was shown to us.
Seven years back, I lost my best friend Akanksha to acute leukemia. It was heart-wrenching, but she went down fighting, and I will always be proud of her. She is not here now, but her resilience taught me a lesson that I am still carrying forward with me.
When Pooja and I went to one of the hospitals earlier in the treatment stage, I remember seeing a quote written in the cancer ward, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” This quote gave us a different sense of strength that everyone needed being in the situation we were. Those lines stuck with me from that day and I think helped us in our journey. The journey wasn’t comfortable, but now we are thinking of getting married soon- that might be our reward!
For anyone on this journey of survival, I would say one thing that I genuinely believe in, that is, there is light at the end of every tunnel, you have to decide to live and fight. It is not easy, but the resilience and the fight that you put in does matter. The fight gets rewarded, decide to live.