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
Cancer Healing Circle Talks with Dr Kiran, Breast Cancer Survivor. Dr Kiran was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, and she survived cancer with the support of her family and friends. Without their help, it would have been near impossible to go through the emotional turmoil during the chemotherapy. Her perspective toward life changed after surviving cancer, and she found the importance of life. She realised that life is not about length but the depth that matters.
Dr Kiran’s journey
Signs and symptoms
My journey started in 2015 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was stage three. I only felt a mild pain in my left breast. So, I did a self-examination and found a lump in my breast. I had sonography, and the doctor asked me to approach a cancer hospital. I sought a second opinion because the first doctor didn’t do any other test. Without further tests, one cannot tell if the lump is benign or malignant. The second doctor asked to do FNAC. After the test, it was confirmed that it was cancer.
We went to Delhi the same day we got the results. We have many relatives in Delhi. Three days later, I had surgery after a few tests like an MRI. At that time, I had a lot of dilemmas, like whether to go for the removal of breasts or remove the lumps. But finally, I went for the removal of my breast. The surgery was successful, and everything went well. After this, I had four chemo cycles followed by thirty-two radiation sessions.
Chemo was especially tough on me. Surgery and radiation were okay, and I didn’t face many problems. The side effects were not easy to handle and taxed my body. Every chemo has brought different side effects. I had mouth sores, nausea, and vomiting during the chemo cycles. After completing my chemo, I felt relieved, like heaven on earth. I came out of the tough time, so my husband and I had a trip to Kashmir after asking the doctor. That trip was refreshing, and I felt very nice.
My whole family supported me. When I was not able to eat, my brother used to make shakes for me. I had untold support from my family. Everyone looked after me. They used to take me for a drive whenever I felt low. Or they took me shopping to cheer me up. Chemo was a terrible experience for me. I started to hate the food I used to like. I lost my hair. But I made a stylish wig and went out.
I had lymphedema. My doctor suggested I contact a specialist, Dr Anuradha Saxena. So, I decided to meet her. Then, I learned that she was conducting a workshop to deal with lymphedema and other side effects. When I went to the seminar, I met other cancer patients who were just like me. But they were laughing and were optimistic. It is where my attitude towards life changed. I started to participate regularly in events like world cancer day, etc. the group was terrific. We did a lot of activities together and even danced to let out our worries and negativity. Our members encouraged us to live fully and even pushed us to dance and enjoy.
I want to spread awareness and also help other cancer patients. I have joined an Indra Dhanush group, which aims to assist others with music. Whether it’s medical or any different kind of support, we always try to come up with a solution.
My first reaction
I wasn’t shocked or didn’t feel like everything was over. I believe that the first step of healing or treatment is acceptance. You have to accept things. It would help if you didn’t stop or get stuck in the problem. You have to think of a solution and your way. In fact, God helps those who help themselves. If you are optimistic, then only treatment will have full potency on you.
I wasn’t afraid of surgery or any other treatments. I only felt down during chemo. I had a lot of problems during the eleventh day of the chemo. But I continued to work during chemo and radiation. I was a bit depressed and paranoid during my chemo cycles. I even suspected my mother might have made the snack spicy intentionally. But she never complained once about it. I was kind of ashamed of my behaviour at the time.
Medical treatments underwent
I had MRM surgery to remove my entire breast. I also had my gallbladder removed. I had four chemo sessions for fifteen days. I am on oral chemo of 20 milligrams nowadays. The drug used is tamoxifen. I had gained weight a bit. I used bandages for lymphedema. It gave me a lot of relief. Apart from bandages, I did a few exercises to cope with them. I had physiotherapy to help with the mobility of my hands. My physiotherapy enabled me to exercise twice a day.
I still go for sonography, x-rays and other tests every six months. It is to ensure that I am out of danger or not.
Gratitude towards whom
God is fantastic, and he is everywhere. He is everywhere in the form of someone, whether it’s my doctor, Anuradha or my family.
I had swine flu in 2009. I was on ventilation for nine days and had a slim chance of survival. My oxygen level was relatively low. I had to take excruciating tests. I was bedridden for eight months. After a long time, I went back to work after recovery. Slowly, I got used to daily life. My brother asked me to go to school. After going there and interacting with the kids, I felt nice and uplifted. Then my brother asked me to open a preschool to help the little ones.
You should be positive and encourage others to do the same. It would help if you did not talk about negative things. I also learned the importance of regular exercise. You should at least do 45 minutes of exercise daily.
Message to cancer patients and caregivers
I insist women never neglect any tenderness in their breasts. They often ignore the pain during or after their periods. For instance, I had pain on the eighth day after my periods. So, you should always consult a doctor if you have any doubt. Don’t do any calculations on your own but ask a doctor. It would help if you did a self-examination when you took a bath. It only takes a few minutes, and you can find videos on how to do it. After 40 years of age, you should go for a mammogram regularly. I think you can choose to do a mammogram and pap smear on your birthday. It will help you to do the test regularly. You can cut your expenses somewhere else but do these tests without failing.
Always share your experience, stories and knowledge with other people. When we connect with others, we find the strength to fight and feel strong. It is essential to communicate with others.
Music helped me a lot to cope with the side effects of chemo. I could not sleep and was in a lot of pain. I played songs and bhajans, which gave me relief. I exercised regularly with the help of my physiotherapist. I also did massages.