Before being diagnosed with stage two breast cancer, I was a young, healthy 26-year-old lady. It got to my notice in November 2020. One day during the shower, I felt a hard lump on my right breast. It was about 3 cm. At that moment, I realized that this wasn’t normal. I decided to get it checked. The process of being diagnosed was quite tricky as the doctors could not believe that this could be something serious seeing my healthy young age. I was prepared in my mind that this was something terrible. I was the first one in my family to be diagnosed with cancer.
It was a pretty arduous journey with lots of ups and downs. I faced many difficulties reaching out to doctors as I was in the U.S. when I was diagnosed. My family members were shocked to hear this news. I decided to move back to my native place (U.K.) to get treated. This disease doesn’t see age. It can happen to anyone, so everyone must be aware of it. I went through an aggressive treatment plan. I took some fertility treatment at the beginning. I decided to avoid harsh chemicals on my body as I want to have kids in the future. Any effect on my body could reduce my chances of being a mother. I went through five months of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy finished in June. Currently, I am midway through my breast reconstruction. I am also going through radiation therapies. Oestrogens hormonally drove my cancer, so currently, I am on hormone blockers. I will be with the blockers for ten more years.
I am also going through immunotherapy, and I am happy that I am back on low dose chemo. I have tried alternative treatments as well, such as reflexology. My physio is currently helping my body recover from the strains faced during the treatments. I always tried not to panic. The more you panic, then things get worse. I stopped overthinking. I always believed that I was in good hands. There is no point in worrying about what is not in our hands. So, I cooperated with the doctors wholeheartedly.
Motivations to not give up
Instantly, after the diagnosis, I had the gut feeling that I would be ok. In the middle of the treatment, things got scary thinking about the outcomes. After chemotherapy, my body started to recover. I felt confident. During the frightening face, many factors kept me motivated.
Despite being in the most challenging phase of my life, I decided to stay positive. I decided to focus on good things by ignoring the rest. I loved talking to my friends and close family members. Their words gave me strength. I love writing; it calmed me. I also joined various social media groups of people facing the same problems. This made me realize that I am not the only one suffering from the same pain. Many others have experienced the same situation and overcome it. I started envisioning myself cancer-free.
Vision for future
It was scary to go through a diagnosis. At first, I was worried. I thought and feared that I wouldn’t be able to have kids in the future. I even lost the hope that I would enjoy the upcoming Christmas. The vision of being happy and enjoying all the events in the future kept me motivated. Doctors were surprised that a young female like me was going through this. The medical team took fantastic care of me.
My lifestyle changed quite a lot after being diagnosed. Before, I used to drink alcohol occasionally. But now, I stopped drinking altogether. I am planning to change my diet. I have taken suppressed diets since the chemotherapy. I am getting better and focussing on healthy foods, which give me energy.
Do you think cancer positively changed you?
Yes, It turned my life upside down. Though it took away many things, it still gave me many important life lessons. It gave me a completely different outlook on life. Before, I took things for granted. I had a happy job, but everything flipped after the diagnosis. I realized it is essential to cherish every small moment. I started to love and respect moments like dinner with family or spend time with friends.
The realization that bad things can happen to anyone. It is not necessary that being healthy will not affect you. We must always be aware of ourselves. I also realized that nothing lasts forever(everything progresses), so we must cherish every moment we are living.
Have you ever thought about why these things happened to you?
Yes, it is natural to feel this way. I didn’t smoke. I always tried eating healthy food. But still, I had to suffer the pain. Cancer does not discriminate between people. It can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, healthy people also can get it. Unfortunately, we must think, why not me?
Message for Cancer patients
Keep going. It is natural to have low moments. It’s not easy to go through cancer. Try to think positive; there are still stories of hope. Miracles do happen. Make most of everything. So, it is essential to enjoy even the bad days. Try to keep the minds calm by doing some creative stuff. In my case, I did creative writing. I also created various paintings. This helped me in relaxing. One must find something that soothes and motivates them. Keep in mind that there is no point worrying about things; it’s not in our hands. Try not to worry about things not in their control.
Stigmas attached to cancer
Cancer is a bad omen in most countries. Even in my family, it was considered taboo. It was believed that if we don’t talk about cancer, we can escape from this deadly disease. No one in my family had cancer before, but still, I got it. Cancer can happen to anyone; we must be aware of it. Many people were affected by the disease and have overcome it. There shouldn’t be any shame in expressing it. There is nothing like you are too young for something. People of any age group can get affected by cancer.
Describe your journey in one word
“Grow up”. I have grown up a lot after being diagnosed with it. I met fantastic people. I got the opportunity to express my journey to the whole world. I started to respect every small moment. Bad things happen, but it is essential to move ahead in life. If happiness can’t stay forever, sadness won’t too. I believe if you can survive cancer, you can do anything.