Diagnosis / Detection
Around Diwali 2019, I felt severe pain in the whole body, especially in my left breast. I noticed even after taking a rest there was intense pain. After the festival, I wanted to know the reason behind this pain. So I went to the general hospital. I felt lumps in my breast & was asked to go to the cancer department. After doing mammography & sonography, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I have lived in Udaipur my whole life. All my life, I have been a very energetic & enthusiastic person. I have a biology background & was in government service. Suddenly my transfer happened. I had to travel 65 km for work. This transfer was both mentally & physically tiring for me. Within a month around Diwali (22nd October 2019), I thought I would rest for three days & the next three days, I will clean the house & celebrate the festival. But I noticed severe pain in my body even after taking a rest, especially in the breast region. At first, I ignored the pain and celebrated the festival.
After the festival, I was curious to know the reason behind the continuous pain. So, I went to the general hospital. I told them the exact location of the pain. They asked me if I could feel any lump in there and I could feel the lump in my left breast. They then asked me to go to the cancer department. As it was a government hospital, I was charged only Rs 5 for the receipt. They referred me to do mammography. When I went for the mammography, they asked me to come on next Monday. I agreed & did not tell anyone about this in the family.
On Monday, I visited the hospital regarding the mammography at 9 am. They did the tests. I was noticing the computer screen, and there was something off. They asked me to do sonography. As I have a biology background, I understood everything the doctor and the intern discussed. They were not ready to show me the reports. They wanted to have a family member there. Luckily, my father passed by, and I told him I was in the hospital to do some tests. So, he received the reports & handed them over to me. I already knew what was there in the reports. I just cross-checked it. I told my father I was going to another doctor to show the reports & he went to the house.
I visited another doctor. He told me to do the 3rd test, the FMNC test. I did the tests. I asked them about the reports. They said it would take one day time. I told them to ping me on WhatsApp. The next day when I was having lunch with my colleagues in the school the reports came in. I read the reports while eating and drank water. I usually don’t drink water between my meal. Everyone there noticed something different as I wasn’t speaking anything. I just sat there silently. I forwarded all the three reports to my sister, who is a doctor in London. Due to the time difference, she saw the reports a little late. I told the staff I will be going on medical leave, but I will be back.
I just wanted to go home & digest the news. I wrote the application for medical leave and took a half-day on that day. While going towards home, in 1st 10 km I cried a lot as I did not want to cry in front of my family. Before reaching home, there is a temple of lord shiva. I made a stop there. I let out everything there in front of the god. I arrived at my mother’s home. My brother & his wife came by the door to drop me off. I told the news about my cancer diagnosis and asked them to tell my mother and father. After that, I went to my son and told him everything. That night I didn’t sleep at all. I was just gazing at every single thing like how it was.
The next day I went to my mother’s house, we discussed what to do next. My sister told me there was an oncologist in Udaipur itself. We went to him. My friend circle used to visit me, and they gave me so much love & time passed away quickly and smoothly. After the surgery, the doctor called me for the chemotherapy sessions. I was in touch with my college mate (Manish Pathak) whose wife had also suffered cancer. I used to talk to her about my problem as she has also undergone the same journey. I gave the reports to Ravi Appa, who made it very clear that there will be surgery at first and then the treatment because the size was massive.
My confidence was boosted throughout the journey every time I heard about the stories of cancer survivors. There were so many live examples that helped me. It was not clear what chemotherapy is or how it is done. I had an image from the movies in my mind of big machines and everything. I cried in front of my son. I even told him I did not want to do chemotherapy. When the 1st session happened, I was pretty shocked by how simple the process was, and there were no big machines as I imagined. I laughed there & wish I knew the process before.
In the hospital, I used to make everyone laugh, and smile. There was this whole circle of nurses and doctors, and even patients also. I am still friends with them and they visit me sometimes. I never faced any problems economically as I had health insurance. Having no trouble economically was a significant relief for me. The coronavirus arrived in the nation. I used to visit the hospital with fear. Now that I have come so far, this journey seems small because the tough time passed away.
Doctors told me to take a coronavirus test before going for a chemo session as it was the protocol. I denied it because there was no symptom of any fever or cough or anything. This is how the next three months passed. After three months I, went to the hospital to remove the machine port and took the coronavirus test. On 11th March 2020, the surgery took place just before my father’s birthday. My father passed away on 5th May 2021 due to a heart attack. He was my support system. He handled my family and me very well; he gave me a lot of hope in life. While going through the journey, he was there with me the whole time.
I have been an excellent & sincere patient. I did everything that my doctors asked me to do. I obeyed orders. I believed in my doctors as I did not have any other option. My Ayurveda guru also denied helping me at that particular moment. So I believe in my doctors.
This whole journey was a turning point in my life. The cancer journey gave me a 3rd chance to live. The first chance was when my parents gave birth to me. The second time when I gave birth to my son. This cancer journey & the diagnosis was the 3rd chance for me to relive.
There’s a lot on my bucket list, but most importantly, I have three wishes on top. I want to see the Himalayas. I want to see Kali Mata Ji, where Ram Krishnam Paramhansa Ji spent his whole life. I also want to see that height where Swami Vivekananda Ji got the thoughts.
Grateful in Life
Firstly I am grateful for my father. He never had any difference between all the three children. He gave us the privilege to study in private schools rather than sending us to government schools. My father never really stopped any of us from doing anything. He made us self-dependent, self-expert, self-valued, self-earning. In my childhood days, I have seen him fixing electric wires or motor cables until 3 AM, so we all can have the best facilities and best education.
Secondly, I am grateful for my son. He is even more understanding & responsible than I am in life. He has a very humble & helping nature. My son is also doing volunteering work in this pandemic crisis.
What kept me positive during the journey?
I had read deeply about cell biology during my college time. I knew my cells would do whatever I wanted them to do. So I kept telling my cells to leave those cancer cells & this is how the operation became more manageable for me. My loved ones used to visit me in the hospital. Doctors and nurses in the hospital also used to ask about my health. I used to sing the songs loudly when no one was there in my room. All the nurses were happy with me because of my way of dealing with everything. I used to listen to everything that the doctors instructed me to do. I have been a good patient. I have followed everything.
Choices during the treatment
At the time of the surgery, I was given three choices. The doctors said I could partially remove my left breast. The second option was the complete removal of my breast. And lastly, there was implantation.
So I went for complete removal of my left breast. I didn’t want any alternate thing or remove my other breast. The doctors were shocked by my decision and the fact that I was so opened about everything.
Lessons during the Cancer Journey
During my treatment, I was supposed to lie down & rest. My parents were doing all the work and taking care of me at the same time. I didn’t want them to do all the work. So I recovered fast. I started doing things little by little. As I was a left-hand user and my surgery also took place in the left breast, I started doing work from my right hand. We all three contributed to the household work.
I learned a lot of things regarding cooking during this time from my mother. I didn’t get the chance earlier to learn all this stuff. First, I was busy with my studies & then after marriage, I got busy with my job.
Cancer journey & this pandemic have shown me who were my real connections throughout my life, and who cared about me. I have blocked the rest of the people who didn’t even bother to contact me till now. I am an efficient person in life, and I don’t like showing off in front of anyone.
An Act of Kindness in Life
This was the time when I was in school. In my neighborhood, there was this lady with a child. She was weak in English but good in maths. So I used to help her with English & she helped me in understanding mathematics.
One day I noticed she was having trouble explaining & understanding English. I asked her what happened to her. She asked me not to tell her husband, whom I call my brother. I used to tie rakhi. I agreed with her. She then said to me that her husband beat her. She told me no one knows about this. I then told her to do exactly as I said. I asked her to beat her husband next time if he starts this act again & I will be keeping my door open so she can run into my home anytime. The next day the same thing happened, but this time she took action & ran straight away to my house. After that day, her husband never drank and never beat his wife.
Parting Message to Cancer Survivors
The only message I would like to pass on the cancer survivors, caregivers, or fighters is to keep supporting each other and stay positive no matter what. Try to improve your immune system. Yoga & Meditation helped a lot while going through this journey. I believe if you’ve proper knowledge about any disease, you can beat it without fear. A person needs to have adequate knowledge about the illness. Cinema frames a different picture about cancer patients & their journey. In real life, it is very different. One must break that movie image of cancer if you have to remove this fear of cancer. One must treat this disease as a normal disease.