Symptoms & Diagnosis
My name is Alka Bhatnagar. I am a Breast Cancer Survivor. I am also an active member of Anuradha Saxena’s Sangini Group. It was around 2013 when I first got diagnosed and noticed a lump in my right breast. It was an emotionally draining experience. I feel devastated and helpless. Every time I would go for a check-up, the doctor would use words like ‘Inflammatory’, ‘Malignant’, and they used to put me under a lot of stress by giving me long consults full of guesses, which were mostly wrong. The results were inconclusive.
However, we kept going for some tests in a multi-specialty hospital and the doctor there found it was breast cancer in my right breast. I underwent chemotherapy and surgery immediately. They removed the lump and checked if any other lumps on my breast were cancerous or not, thankfully none of them were. They also did an immunotherapy protocol called Herceptin, without which survival rate would have been 50 percent even with chemotherapy treatment, but with this they gave me a survival rate of 70 percent with minimal side effects.
The doctors there seemed more educated than most other doctors in this city. It is not just about being well versed with medical terminology or having gone to a good medical school; it is about how one picks up on patterns and symptoms and actually connects the dots to make sense of things – This is what matters most when it comes to treatment options.
Side Effects & Challenges
Throughout my journey of beating Breast Cancer, I was unable to find bras that fit by the time I had lost all my hair. When a woman loses her hair from chemo, it’s a sign of strength and courage. It’s also those changes that make you feel like an outsider in your own skin. This bra represents survival for me and for many women who have gone through what I did. To add – After treatments of chemotherapy and radiation, my skin was pale, my eyes were dark and I felt like a stranger in my own body.
It was time for an extreme book reading. To get back to feeling like my old self again I turned to doing my hobbies. It helped me look good, feel better and even helped me feel invincible when being treated for cancer.
Chemotherapy can be an isolating experience. For most people, it makes you feel invisible. When I was bald and lost my eyebrows, I made a choice to fight back and wear make-up. It wasn’t just about vanity; it was about getting to know myself again. Cancer made me feel like I couldn’t face the world without a mask!
Support System & Caregiver
Sometimes life isn’t easy. People get sick and that is a sad truth of life. They might have an accident and someone needs to take care of them. This can be hard because the family members may feel confused and they don’t know what to do in order to help the person to recover quickly.
My family was always there to support me during my time of need. They would listen to all my problems and do their best to solve them. The hospital staff was both loving and empathetic. When I started experiencing intense pain, they did everything in their power to take care of me.
I am grateful to have a support system that’s always there for me and lets me share my experience with them. That made the recovery process after cancer much easier to deal with, because I started feeling better and thanks to the doctors and nurses. They also helped me recover from my aches at a faster rate!
Post Cancer & Future Goal
I feel great today. I have bounced back so well from surgery that I can scarcely believe it! The incision is healing beautifully, and I am so happy with how things look now, even if it’s a little different than it was before. It’s important for me to appreciate all the good things in life, no matter how big or small they may seem. I know this experience has been really tough, but the good news is, I get to work through it doing things that I would love to do regardless of what happens!
Some Lessons That I Learnt
Life is too short to be lived with regrets. Acknowledging that hard lesson and choosing to move forward give me a sense of deep gratitude for what I have. Cancer has taught me many things. And, a cancer diagnosis is a moment of terror, but it can also be a chance to stop and re-examine one’ life. It’s forced me to be patient and kind, it’s made me more empathetic towards others; it’s encouraged me to rise above even when the world comes crashing down around me, and most importantly, it’s taught me about love – redefined as an idea and feeling.
But as I scrolled through my memories and the rough times, I realized that without this horrific experience, I wouldn’t have where I am now. Here’s the thing. In order to progress, you have to have a few lessons to pull from the side-lines – whether they are learnt from school, people you know or things that happen.
Finally, I am a Breast Cancer Survivor. I share my story to help others through their treatments with courage, strength, and hope. My advice is talk with your doctor regarding side effects and if you need more information on medications.
Always have someone who can keep you company during treatment. I was one of the lucky ones; after a long time, I am now cancer-free. However, my story is not uncommon. So many women suffer from breast cancer. And, the effects of chemo can be difficult to manage. At times, I wonder if it was all worth it. But then I look at the beautiful woman in the mirror and see all the strength she has gained along the way, and I know it was!
Always remember one thing – There’s no such thing as timeless when it comes to eradicating cancer. The battle doesn’t stop after treatment ends. You continue the search for all options available to you, so that your body, mind, and soul are healthy as they can be.