Dr Anitha Ranganathan is a breast cancer survivor and a retired ENT surgeon. She works with those diagnosed with cancer to help them get back a better sleep in their lives. She was diagnosed and treated for cancer in 2020 when the whole world was brought to a standstill due to corona. Having been diagnosed with cancer, operated on cancer, and now living through it herself, she understands the intricacies of this illness like no one else can and how it causes havoc in our life. She was born in India, lived in Malaysia for around 15 years, and has retired from mainstream medicine and moved to New Zealand in 2016.
How it was diagnosed
I always used to keep a check through a mammogram. I noticed a little lump in my breast. Being a doctor, I understood that this is something different that needs to be addressed. When the report came, It confirmed that I have stage 1 breast cancer. It was positive hormonal cancer.
My first reaction
The diagnosis can either make you or break you. Or something in between. I think most of us fit in the third category. Being a doctor, we are little immune to all the diseases, but we become human again when it comes to a personal level. We also have to walk the journey as anybody else does. SO before getting my biopsy report, I was pretty sure about it. So, it did not come to me as a surprise, but I do have so many questions in my mind, like why me? What did I do wrong? I was leading a good healthy lifestyle. I did not have any family history either.
I underwent a lumpectomy twice. After surgery I had 20 rounds of radiation. There was no chemotherapy. I had followed alternative medicine as well. I took proper care of what I was eating. I exercised every day. I kept control of my thoughts and emotions. All these really helped in recovery. I am currently on Tamoxifen for the next five years.
Emotional well being
I am a very private kind of person. I did not want to disclose my situation to anyone as it would impact my mental health. I went for a counselling session once, but I knew it would not help me. I trusted divine power, which helped me come out of this situation. My husband was very supportive of me. He is a very religious kind of person. And he helped me motivate myself through spiritual mode. He managed everything very decently. I must confess that my bond with my husband has become stronger post-cancer. During the journey, I had my own hi and lows, but he was always there to hold me and understand me. Help from my husband and friend was incredible during my cancer.
Earlier I used to plan a lot for the future. But cancer has taught me to live in the present. I do not plan a lot for the future. I love what I do. I have been given a second chance in life, so I want to live this to the fullest. Now when I look back, I think it was a beautiful journey. Life has to go on. Celebrate every darn small itsy-bitsy victory like you have won the Nobel Prize. Disappointments will still happen. Cancer is not a vaccine for life’s realities. But learn to be happy with it all, in the midst of it all, and be satisfied and proud and ecstatic, no matter what.
I have always been a survivor. Cancer was the ultimate challenge that I had, but I always had quite a few challenges in my life, and I have always come out of it, making me feel like I am just becoming a better person. And I can handle this as well. It was the strength that I always possessed within myself. And I have always been quietly aware of it, and I knew it had been there.
You will have your highs. You will have your lows. Your creator will become your twin flame – you will hate him one moment; you will love him the next. You will fight with him one second, and you will want him by your side the next moment. You will keep asking those questions despite knowing that he will leave it to you to get those answers. And slowly but surely, you do get the solutions. And the reason for the chaos. And what your creator has always been trying to tell you, but you were too busy to hear. Cancer was his way of showing his love for you.
I took proper care of my lifestyle changes. I became more aware of my food sensitivity, so I modified my diet accordingly. I became more regular in terms of exercise. I started listening to my body. I do not take the stress and rest when I think my body needs it.
Impact of cancer
Cancer has made me a strong person. Whenever I become nervous about anything, I recall that I have survived cancer so I can do anything.