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
Anju Dubey is a breast cancer survivor. Around Diwali 2019, Anju felt severe pain in the whole body, especially in my left breast. After the festival, she wanted to know the reason behind this continuous pain. So she went to the general hospital. She felt lumps in her left breast & was asked to go to the cancer department. After doing various tests like mammograms and sonograms, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The treatment went on. Chemotherapy sessions took place. Now she is currently happy as she fought this cancer and survived. She says that cancer is a journey.
Treatments underwent and the challenges faced
Today when I reflect on my cancer journey, it doesn't seem like a big situation. But at that time, I was shocked; it hit me like a bomb. Before I had cancer, my life was pretty normal. I commuted over 65 km every day. Still, I wasn't tired, and only a half-hour rest was enough. I worked like a machine waking up at 5.30 in the morning and sleeping at 11.30 at night. My treatments started after being diagnosed with cancer. Before going to surgery, I greeted my brother goodbye so that if anything went wrong, he might have to take care of my son. I am very close to my brother. When I woke up after the surgery, it was hard to tell how many hours had gone. I had health insurance to save tax which came in handy during my treatment.
I suggest people stay away from negative people. You should only contact the people who are knowledgeable about things related to cancer. I stopped listening to the relatives who visited me during this time. I did so because their negative remarks stayed in my head for a long time. So, I decided not to pay attention to such people. My friends and colleagues supported me and often talked to me on the phone. Some of them visited me after my surgery. I skipped one of my chemos due to a covid situation. Afterwards, I talked to my doctor about it. He said that the covid case is indefinite. So, I can't put my chemo on due to covid. He urged me to visit and see the safety facilities. If I feel the safety protocols are not up to mark, I shouldn't do the chemo. When I visited the hospital, I found out that only patients were allowed to enter. All the safety practices were up to mark. So, I moved forward with my chemo.
I had four primary chemo cycles, which were scheduled every twenty-one days. This was followed by minor chemo cycles performed every week. I didn't know anything about chemo. I have only seen it in movies. So, I was scared if I would be able to undergo it. But my son explained to me that it was crucial to complete my treatment. I cannot leave the treatment in the middle like that. When I received chemo for the first time, I didn't even feel it happening. I was given some fluid through IV. I had an entirely different picture of chemo in my mind. In fact, I thought that all kinds of machines would surround me. Before the chemo, I took my meal and had coconut water after the chemo. And then I came back home to have a freshly prepared lunch. You should ensure to keep yourself well fed during the ongoing chemo treatment. It would help if you rested as well. I felt so sleepy for the next few days after chemo that I only ate and took a rest. So, it would be best if you had someone to prepare your meals. I was lucky in this case. My friends took care of it. I just rang one of my friends and asked them to prepare meals for me.
After chemo, I have to take radiation. This time, I decided to know about radiation beforehand. So, I decided to ask the doctors about it. They walked through the whole process, how it was performed and how long it would take. It takes a half-hour for each radiation session. One good thing about the radiation room was that prayers and bhajans were played during the session. So, if I focused on two of them, one radiation session would pass in no time. After this, I had side effects like fatigue and loss of my sense of taste. These side effects were similar to corona infection. But the doctors asked me not to worry. Slowly, I lost my hair. It didn't affect me much because winters had arrived, and we usually covered our heads during that time. After completing my treatment, I wanted to leave the job. But my son insisted I at least go to work and see how I feel about it. If I still don't want to go, I should take a few days off. My family supported me a lot and devised a solution for every problem. One of my friends met me every day and talked to me.
Many of my friends left me thinking that cancer is contagious. But it can occur to anyone. There is so much pollution and chemicals around us. What I learned is to eat healthily and avoid few foods. I used to eat a lot of junk food like noodles. This junk food may disrupt the inner mechanism of your body and can manifest as a disease. Many of us don't go for annual checkups. I shared my journey with all of my friends so that they would benefit from it. I quit sugar and milk products. I joined a group that helped me with planning my diet. They also cleared my doubts. I also learned yoga, meditation and exercises, which helped me regain my strength, especially in my left hand. Now, I drive regularly to school.
What kept me motivated
I drew inspiration from other cancer fighters. If their cases were similar to mine, I asked them questions and clarified my doubts. One of them was living her life happily after twenty years of diagnosis. I thought I could also do the same. I also thank Dimple, ma'am, who arranged a talk with a lady who inspired me a lot. You shouldn't think of yourself as a victim. You should not be afraid but face it bravely. Don't depend on others but do your errands yourself.
I was fighting for my son. I thought that I had lived my life, but my son had not even gotten married. He gave them purpose and motivation to keep fighting. He smiled when he saw me happy. In fact, he had so much knowledge about cancer treatments. I often got tips from him.
What I learned from my cancer experience
I learned that you should not take too much contraception. You should opt for external contraception. Don't take medications to delay your periods. These all things can lead to cancer later. Even abortions are not very safe. I don't eat deep-fried food anymore. I have started to use pink rock salt and mustard oil. I munch on roasted bajra, peanuts and chickpeas. I avoid sugar and only use jaggery. I do sukshma vyayama exercises, which I learned from my doctor and also went for a walk.
My bucket list and gratitude
I want to visit the Vivekananda rock memorial and Gangotri. I want to go to these places. I am grateful to my parents. They are the reason I have become today. I feel it is God's blessing that helped me through my entire journey.
There is no definite solution for cancer. You can do many therapies to treat and cope with cancer and its side effects. But there should be a balance between alternative and standard treatments. You should listen to your body. Find what it wants you to do. You can't practice and adopt all the therapies. You can opt for a few of them. Try to become attuned to your mind and body to find what is best for you. You should not forget about your inner strength and attitude. Mental well-being and stress management are vital. Here, Anju achieved a balance between her treatment and alternatives. She also relied on exercises like sukshma vyayama and a healthy diet.
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