My cancer was diagnosed in 1996. It was 3rd stage breast cancer. And contrary to the popular belief that if we breastfeed our baby, we cannot have cancer, I was breastfeeding my 11-month baby when it got detected.
It began with a lump
First of all, I noticed a lump in my breast, but I ignored it. Later, it took the shape of a hard, bony structure. Different tests confirmed that it was a 3rd stage breast cancer. Although I have a family history of cancer, my father and sister had cancer, I was not ready to accept it.
My first reaction
When I came to know about the disease, the first thing that came to my mind was that I had to get rid of it. I had a 4-years and an 11-month baby. I was feeling very bad for them. I used to think about who would care for them if I was not there. My family was going through a very bad time. My father and sister both had cancer. My family had experienced the worst part of this disease. My father had a horrible side effect during treatment, and my sister got scared of it; she did not agree to treatment. Without treatment, her situation became worst.
So, after being diagnosed, the very first thing that came to my mind was I had to survive. I had to live for my family and kids. I have to make all the possible efforts to get cured.
I was diagnosed with cancer on 8th April 1996, and my operation was done on 28th April. It was followed by chemotherapy. I believe that timely diagnosis and proper treatment on time can save a cancer patient. Initially, when I was diagnosed, I had only one thing in my mind I have to live for my children, maybe 5 years, 10 years or 15 years, but I am happy that now it is going to be 25 years. My daughter is a special child, so I was not in the position to take proper treatment in a specialized cancer hospital. I stayed with my daughter at Bangalore Children Hospital, and my doctor used to come there to treat me. He also decided that that was the best option considering the age of my children. I trusted my doctor. I have faith in traditional treatment. It all worked in my recovery.
A new life
The best part of my life has come after cancer. I never took my life seriously before. I just went with the flow, for my husband and kids were my priority. When I had cancer and was on the verge of losing my life, I wondered why I came into this world? If I lose my life today, what is my contribution to society? What I have done for myself, other than living for others. It gave me an insight. I decided to take care of myself and give priority to myself. I decided that I was not going to waste my life.
I studied again. I did my MS in counselling. I did many things after cancer that I would not have done otherwise. I was going with the flow. Cancer was the catalyst that brought out my inner potential. It was a gifted life for me. My life is much way better than before.
Children were biggest inspiration
My children were young when I had cancer. They were my biggest inspiration to live. My daughter is special child. She always needed me. She was the biggest motivation. I lost my sister after my diagnosis. I saw it had a very bad impact on my other sibling and parent. I did not want them to have that pain once again. So those things motivated me.
I was a meritorious student but had to leave my studies to get married. I always thought that I had the potential to help others. Cancer gave me the reason to fulfil everything I always wanted to do.
Never think of cancer to often. Do not focus on cancer. Think of it, neither negative nor positive. Because any way it brings that thought in your mind. Instead, focus on something you want today. Come up with new ideas. Enjoy your life. It is good that you are aware of it, but it should not be the focus. Don’t think of yourself as a survivor. Take it as a part of life.
It becomes difficult for the caretakers to see their loved ones in pain. On the other hand, patients think that we are going through so much; why are they worried. A lot of confusion creates among them. Good understanding between the caretaker and survivor is necessary.
Belief in luck but do not depend on it. I have cancer but I never allowed cancer to have me.