Ruchi Dilbagi (Breast Cancer): “Be empathetic, not sympathetic.”

ruchi breast cancer survivor

Detection/Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

 

I’m a working professional, and a gynecologist’s daughter. Therefore, I’ve been taught how to self-examine a breast. So, in December 2012, I detected breast cancer symptoms. That is to say that I felt a small lump in my right breast.

 

I must say that I ignored the signs of breast cancer for some time, due to the pressure at work at that point of time. I wanted to push the real battle against breast cancer at least until April 2013.

 

I did consult another gynecologist. She helped me with oral administration; I took tablets for three months. At the beginning of March 2013, I revisited my doctor. Unfortunately, the lump had not improved. She immediately recommended me an oncologist.

 

However, the financial year-end was approaching, and work pressure was increasing. I delayed my visit to the oncologist by a month.

 

So, in April 2013 the onco surgeon advised me some tests, including FNAC. This FNAC report came positive. Therefore, I had to undergo surgery within 24 hours.

 

 

Treatment of my Breast Cancer

 

Let me tell you that since the detection of my breast cancer, I aspired to be a breast cancer survivor. I feel great that I’m able share my breast cancer survivor story, instead of succumbing to the disease.

 

After the surgery, I was referred to two other oncologists for chemotherapy and radiation. I took six chemo cycles followed by 38 radiations.

 

You’d be pleased to know that I completed my breast cancer treatments while still being a working professional. My employer had been very collaborative and supportive during the nine months of my breast cancer treatment.

 

Whenever required, I could avail the “work from home” facility. Also, I could work from a branch closer to my house (yes, I’m professionally from the Insurance Industry).

 

 

Support during my Breast Cancer

 

Breast cancer as a disease is not as painful as the breast cancer treatment. The treatment of breast cancer drains you completely. Therefore, supportive workplace environment and family play instrumental roles in the healing process. Those who encourage you to believe in medical science, also ask you to have hope towards cancer survival.

 

My friends always used to call up and motivate me. Also, my father ensured that I consumed good and healthy food. My father assumed the roles of both my parents simultaneously. I would also walk for at least 5 km daily.

 

I must say that my strongest foundation to become a breast cancer survivor, was my work. My work kept me alive from within. It lifted my spirit constantly. Spending the entire day at my workplace made me forget my pain. I had the feelings of a young breast cancer survivor.

 

 

“Be empathetic, not sympathetic” towards Cancer Patients and Cancer Survivors

 

A cancer or breast cancer patient actually does not require anyone’s sympathy. So, cancer caregivers should be empathetic, not sympathetic. Instead of showing pity or sympathy, caregivers and/or community should encourage the cancer patient. Empathy is often, more helpful than sympathy.

 

Caregivers have a bigger role to play than simply offering care and ensuring comfort. They should protect the cancer patient from feeling isolated. Maybe they could arrange some simple yet productive activities for the cancer patient. This is to just keep them engaged in something or the other. Such activities could include reading, working, cooking, indoor games, or any other hobbies that they like.

 

Light exercises are really recommended. If exercising is not possible daily, at least maintain walking at moderate speed.

 

 

Life as a Young Breast Cancer Survivor

 

My life has taken an entirely new course since my breast cancer. I started respecting and worshiping my body more than ever before. Now, my priorities include maintaining a healthy wellbeing and doing yoga regularly. I now eat healthy food, and that too in time. I do not exert myself unless necessary.

 

I began looking at the brighter side of things. For example, when I had list my hair due to chemo…I told myself that I am saving a lot of money by not having to spend on shampoos, conditioners, hair colors, haircuts, waxing etc.

 

Breast cancer treatment takes such a prolonged duration, that it changes your perspective on life. You actually start valuing each and every moment of the gift of life. You start living and enjoying every moment.

 

I don’t think I am just a breast cancer survivor. I am a thriver.

 

Parting Message

 

Cancer patients should not take to bed, but always keep themselves busy or engaged in some or other activity. Practice exercise, yoga and meditation, because they help greatly in the healing process. My parting message for cancer caregivers is to be empathetic with patients; not sympathetic.