First symptom and diagnosis
I noticed a lump in my breast in 2018. I was in Dubai and got married just ten months before. Initially, I was hesitant to go for a check-up, but my husband insisted on it as I have a family history of breast cancer. My three aunties (dad’s sisters) also had cancer—the doctor prescribed for autopsy and MRI. The reports came negative. But I was a little sceptical, and I had some intuitions of something going wrong. I came back to Delhi for a second opinion. Her doctor suggested for biopsy. The report confirmed my cancer. It was a third stage genetic carcinoma.
The treatment started with chemotherapy. The doctor suggested inserting a chemo port in my body for better treatment. So, it all started with chemo port, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. I was given six cycles of chemotherapy and 21 round of radiation and operation for breast removal. The doctor has suggested removing both breasts as I have a history of cancer in my family. However, I was not ready for it at this young age. But just after two years, I noticed a small lump in my second breast also. I was cautious this time, so I saw it very early. My body was fragile enough to take strong medicine, so I was given a mild dose of 11 cycles of chemo and then a breast removal operation.
Side effects of treatment
The treatment had a severe side effect. I had vomiting and diarrhoea; I could not walk due to weakness for three to four days. I used to feel low all the time. Depression, mood swings, and hormonal changes had become part of life. My menstruation cycle was stopped. My hair started falling. It was very disappointing. I stopped meeting people. I did not want to face people. Because of cancer and its side effects, I went into depression. I was always worried about my cancer remission. Fear, anger, depression, cancer reoccurrence, and sleepless nights all took my toll. I started reading books and did meditation. It helped a lot in coping with the depression and negative thoughts.
I am very fortunate to have a supportive family throughout my journey. I have a love marriage. I am Marwari, and my husband is Maharashtrian. After being diagnosed with cancer, he was there with me every time. My parents and friends also supported me tremendously. After my chemotherapy, I could not eat; the food seemed tasteless to me. My friends used to come to my place and cook a variety of foods so that I could make anything. I was very grateful to all of them for their immense support.
Importance of self-examination
Self-examination is very important for everyone. I have a family history of cancer still I ignored it. But we self-examine ourselves regularly. It could help in early diagnosis and better treatment. During my 2nd diagnosis, I was aware that it helped in early diagnosis, and treatment was also mild compared to the previous one.
Self-examination is very easy, and it takes just five minutes. You have to apply soap to your breast and rub your fingers to check for the lumps. It should be done once a week.
Change in lifestyle
Cancer is a lifestyle disease. With lifestyle changes, we can lead a healthy life. Post-treatment, I take proper care of my diet. I always avoid fried food as much as possible. Exercise has become a part of my routine. I believe that with proper diet and lifestyle, we can manage a healthy life in cancer. I avoid sugar as much as possible. I was not able to move my hands after the operation. But with the help of proper exercise, I overcame it. Sleep also plays a significant role in recovery. Try to sleep as much as possible. It is not about 8-9 hours. You can sleep as much as possible during treatment. Later also follow a healthy pattern for sleeping.
Chase your dream
My message for everyone is- Chase your dream. Any obstacle cannot stop you from achieving your goal. As a fashion designer, I want to visit London, Paris. I want to take part in Milan Fashion Show. During treatment, I took a break from my career for around one and a half years. I have resumed my career. It keeps me occupied and stops me from negative thinking.
Life lesionBe positive. Live your life completely. If you feel like saying no- say. Don’t hesitate. Earlier, I felt terrible about my cancer at this young age, but now I take it as a blessing. My body could bear the side effects when I was young, and I got completely cured. But at a later age, it would become problematic. I have learnt to take everything positively.