About the Healing Circle
The Healing Circle at Love Heals Cancer and ZenOnco.io aim to give cancer patients, caregivers, and winners a safe space to share their feelings or experiences. This circle is built on the foundation of kindness and respect. It is a sacred space where everyone listens with compassion and treats each other with honour. All the stories are confidential, and we believe that we have the guidance we need within us, and we rely on the power of silence to access it.
About the speaker
Anjali Gadoya was titled Mrs India Iron lady from 2019 to 2020. She is also an artist by profession. She was almost 54 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. The doctor conducted a biopsy, and the reports came back positive for Breast cancer. She underwent surgery and chemotherapy. The cancer journey was painful, but she somehow kept her will strong to get through it. She completed a total of 6 chemo sessions. Radiation was not required in her case. She recovered and started following her passion. She learned dancing & swimming. She won multiple awards for acting. She also won the Mrs India Iron Lady award for the year 2019-2020.
Anjali says, “Think positively & understand that you have to go through the journey. This too shall pass. Cancer taught me how to live, what to eat & how to deal with people. Cancer taught me what life is. Cancer fought with me, and I won the battle. It helped me to cut off all the negativities from my life”.
Anjali Gadoya’s journey
Early symptoms and diagnosis
Initially, I had pain in my shoulder, fingers and other joints. I asked the doctor about it. They thought it was arthritis. So, they gave me painkillers. Everything went smoothly for some time. Suddenly, my back started to hurt a lot. Doctors said it might be due to old age and lack of exercise. A few days later, I found a small lump in my right breast. I was shocked because I used to think that cancer could happen to people who drank a lot or smoked. I never knew that it could happen to anyone. I had no awareness of cancer. Then I went to the doctor, who suggested that I have a biopsy. The results showed positive for cancer.
My first reaction
When the doctor told me I might have cancer, I was utterly shocked. I started to cry in front of the doctor. But the doctor advised me that crying wouldn’t help me and I should go forward with a biopsy. When the report showed that I had cancer, it was a great shock. It was the first case in my family. Now, I have to go forward with the treatment.
I had a mastectomy to remove my right breast. This was followed by chemo. I was afraid that I would lose my long hair. So, I asked other people to find out what would happen. All this was so shocking for me. I even thought of committing suicide. One day when I was crying, my daughter saw me crying. She asked me why I was like that. Then, she encouraged me to fight. She said that she was there for me. My husband and son supported me and promised to be with me in this fight.
Sujata, my friend, helped a lot and even took me to chemo sessions. I never let myself down. In fact, I treated the chemo time like a party by putting on makeup, taking selfies and talking to friends. I even sang a song on my last chemo. But the doctors said that I had to take radiation after chemo. When I heard about radiation, I was so scared. After consulting with doctors, I learned that radiation wasn’t required in my case. Tears of joy came to my eyes after listening to this from the doctors. Finally, my treatments were over. The side effects were that I couldn’t move my wrist. I also developed thyroid problems. My wrist didn’t discourage me, and I could make the dance moves elegantly. People are surprised when they know about my wrists.
Life after cancer
I had to do something with my life. My son took me to Goa, where I saw other bald people too. So, I removed my bandana and participated in the dance competition. I got third place in that competition. It was so motivating for me. If you remove ‘ce’ from ‘cancer’, it becomes ‘care’. So, I care. I believe every problem has a solution. One shouldn’t be disheartened after losing one’s hair. I even lost my eyebrows and eyelashes apart from the long hair on my head. I ask the cancer patients to think of cancer as a disease which only stays for a longer time. After you recover, you will have a second life which will be blissful. You will recall your cancer journey, but it won’t come back. It would help if you moved on. It would be best if you didn’t ask questions like “why me” to yourself. It’s because it just happens.
How my cancer journey transformed me
I always loved dancing and watched a lot of dance videos. Before having cancer, I was very bad-tempered and took everything lightly. But I cared for my family and brought up my kids well. I wanted to dance on a stage so other people would know about my talent. Until then, I have put a hold on my dream of dancing. I thank God for giving me cancer because I am killing my time. I wasn’t living a life. In fact, I am living like a celebrity. I think of my cancer journey as an exam from God. Now, I have realised my dream by starting my career in dancing and acting. I also learned who was on my side and loved me. At that time, I was financially fragile.
Finally, we are out of it. I am aware of the problems cancer patients face. So, I help them in whatever way possible. I hug them, talk to them and even visit their houses. Not only the rich people, but I also support the underprivileged. I don’t want to see tears in any cancer patient’s eyes. I urge cancer patients to stick to one doctor rather than switching frequently. They should also get medical insurance. It is essential. Always be happy, put on makeup and enjoy your life. Don’t listen to others. Make friends who will help you even in the darkest hour.
Changes in lifestyle
Earlier, I didn’t do any physical activity. After my treatment, I started doing all kinds of exercise. Every morning and evening, I do asanas and breast exercises that my doctor taught me. Apart from these, I do dance practice. I loved to snack on junk food earlier. But I have changed my diet and eat only homemade foods. Just not the wheat chapatis, I also eat chapatis made of jowar, bajra, etc. I have included buttermilk, carrot juice and “khada” in my regular diet. After the surgery, I developed a thyroid problem for which I take medicine every morning. I gave up tea and sweets. I don’t experiment with skin products.
Message to other cancer patients
It is easy to tell cancer patients to stay positive. But it is not easy at all. They find it hard to express their thoughts. Keeping your thoughts to yourself won’t help to let out the steam. It might lead to depression. So, have friends and be open to them. I think I know why I might have cancer. I hid my pain and never shared it with anyone, which might have manifested as cancer. So, I urge all cancer patients to not keep any thoughts to themselves. You don’t know how and in what form your pain might show up. Please share it with your friends and ask them to keep them a secret. Once you let out your feelings, you will feel unburdened. Try to stay positive and do what you love. Don’t take anything very seriously. The caregivers should treat cancer patients with love. You should consider them as a baby.
Positive outlook helps
Staying positive helped Anjali cope with her treatments well. She took the chemotherapy like a party and celebrated her day of chemo. Her positive attitude helped her to manage her stress well. We all know that facing any difficulty with optimism and the will to fight can help us in many ways.