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 Nandini Sharma, Bone Cancer Survivor. Nandini was diagnosed when she was 16 years old. Since the tumour was localised, she had hope and faith that she would be cured. She got her treatment done in 2018. For three years, she has been cancer-free. She always believed in herself and is mentally strong. There were many times when she wanted to give up, but she fought the battle bravely. She had her friends and family by her side throughout. She is very grateful for the life she has right now.
Signs and symptoms
I am twenty years old, so I don’t consider myself very wise, but I will try my best. It started when I was sixteen years old. At that age, everyone is very image-conscious and sensitive about their appearance. So, I decided to start working out to stay fit. One day while working out, I felt a lot of pain in my leg. But I was happy because this pain often indicates that you are doing optimum exercise. Hence, I thought that I was doing a great job, and I kept going assuming that I would be fine. The pain didn’t fade away, so I told my mom about it. Then I went to the doctor. He took an x-ray and said to us that something seemed to be a bit suspicious. He asked us to stay calm and do further tests. I had to go for an MRI. After the MRI, doctors asked if I had hurt myself. I didn’t remember doing anything like that. After I got the results, I went through them. I was filled with medical jargon but wanted to know what it meant. I googled the terms. One of the terms suggested aggressive growing tumours.
When we went to the doctors, they said it might be bone TB, which is likely cancer. I had two biopsies right after it. My dad and mom broke the news to me by giving a reference from a movie. Everyone was with me. They stayed with me and helped me to get all the information.
Treatments underwent and challenges
I didn’t take the news well and cried a lot. I wasn’t in the right headspace. I had no idea what I was getting into. Then I did some research about it. In fact, I did every kind of research I could do. A few days later, I finally started my chemotherapy. I was told that I had to take six rounds of chemotherapy. And in the middle, I would get surgery on the leg. I told myself I was only sixteen and had a long life ahead. But when the chemo started, it was not what I expected. It was drastic and daunting. Before chemo, I had long hair. I asked my mom to cut my hair short because I would lose them anyway. I lost 15 kilos and had only bones. One during the shower, I started to lose my hair in clumps. It was the most challenging thing for me to deal with.
I think chemo is hard because you know what you will face but don’t know until you meet it. My family used to take me to the mountains to make me feel at home. I loved mountains, and they kept me going. After half of my chemo, I had to go through surgery. It wasn’t successful, and I couldn’t walk for a long time. My bones could not join, and I was stuck in a wheelchair for a long time. I wanted to give up during the second half of my chemo. I wanted a pause to see what other kids could do. But my parents took me to the therapist and my doctor. Somehow, I made it through. I wanted to go to the class and get back to everyday life.
Life after cancer
You cannot go on with everyday life after cancer. I had to go through two significant surgeries after my treatments ended. It is a lot of taking in. my body was one of the things I had to deal with. I remember my family and friends tried to uplift me. My friends took me on a trip to Goa when I was in a wheelchair. I had no hair, eyelashes or eyebrows, which was hard on me. After the treatment, I started to accept things. Before, I used to ask questions like “Why me?”. I feel grateful to be able to go through such a significant thing, and my body was able to tolerate everything. Last year, I was able to walk again. It made me realise that small things we take for granted are vital to us. It is so great to be able to walk on your feet. And not being able to do that for three years is a lot to handle. I still have a lot to heal. During the treatment, you need some goals to hold on to. I thought if I fought through this, my family would be happy, and my life would be alright. These are a few things that kept me going.
Life lessons I learned
I learned that your mind and body could go through so much without realising it. It is wonderful. I am more emphatic towards people now. I have a lot of love to give to everyone around me. It’s because you don’t know what they might be going through.
To whom I am grateful
I am grateful to my family. I realised their importance when you go through something like this. I am grateful for the life I have now.
Life after cancer
I cannot run now, but I have started to accept the limitations. I can’t do the exercises that I wanted to do. I will be different from people of my age. But I will work through them. I have started physiotherapy. Right now, I want to make time for the fast food I couldn’t have. But in the future, I will have a more healthy diet.