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HomeCancer Survivor StoriesHeena Saini (Breast Cancer Survivor)

Heena Saini (Breast Cancer Survivor)

Heena Saini (Breast Cancer Survivor)

I am currently keeping with the role of information security. I have 18+ years of professional experience, primarily with IT. I am associated with multiple other programs too. I am associated with a corporate diva, which helps in the development of women. Work is a part of life or aspect of life. I have joined various hospitals too. We are making awareness among people & we started it last year. 

How it started

This happened 11 years ago. I got the news of being diagnosed on 1st July 2010. I felt a lump in my left breast while bathing, but I was busy with my marriage scheduled in December of the same year. For 3-4 months, I left it. Then I casually told my mother, and she told me to get it checked. We consulted a local doctor who said it’s normal at this age. I was 28 at that time. The doctor said, “Why don’t you show this to a gynecologist. I went to see the gynecologist. She did a proper clinical test and suggested that I should go for mammography and FNAC. While conducting the test, the doctor gave us hints regarding cancer. When the reports came, the values showed that it’s closer to being cancerous. The doctor advised me that to go for the removal. It was the 20th of June when they did the surgery. Doctors told me that it would take almost 20-25 minutes, but it went for like 45-55 minutes. When they removed it, it was a big white ball of the cyst. It was painful. I was ok after that. They asked me to go for a biopsy; I got my biopsy done. Results revealed breast cancer. I did the MRI test and that too came positive. It was triple-negative breast cancer. It was a type of cancer present in just 15% of people & the one I had was one in a million.  

Treatment

I got treated at SCG in Bangalore. My brother and I talked to the doctor about the treatment. Some steps were to be followed- 

  • The cyst had to be out. I got diagnosed with both breasts. I had multiple small cysts which cant be removed. I also got to know that I have cysts even in the lymph nodes. 
  • The doctor said six cycles of chemotherapy, three surgeries which is your choice & 30 radiation for sure to reduce the further invasiveness.        

When I went for my first PET scan, it was only spread to the breast area & lymph nodes. Doctors said that surgery is inevitable. It was on me to choose what to conduct first between surgery & chemotherapy. I decided on chemo. Dr. Mahesh(my oncologist surgeon) & my breast cancer specialist both clearly explained the side effects of chemo. They had a nurse with me 24*7; if anything happens, I will get in touch with the nurse & then she will contact the doctor. The doctor also gave me a certain number of patients. He said feel free to talk to them if I need any support.

I got my first chemo on 16th July 2010. When the chemo started, I chopped my hair as I was mentally preparing myself. First, chemo was easier. I kept my willpower high so that I knew I didn’t have to throw up. I used to take an injection for five days after the chemo & I also knew the side effects if I would not take it. It was all good till my 5th chemo. My 5th chemotherapy was brutal as the immune system started going weak. 

After the first chemo, it was not easy to get the veins so they put a catheter tube, which was there for four months. Every week I used to go to the hospital to get it flushed so that it won’t get blocked. During the treatment, I used to work from the hospital to get myself distracted from all the medicines. I used to ask questions regarding medication because it was my body that should bear the pain. After chemo, I lost my hair. Until the 4th chemo, I have not seen myself without a wig. Those intradermal injections used to cause a lot of pain for five days. Every third day for two weeks, there used to be a CBC test to see the blood platelets test. Till the 6th chemo, my body was completely down. My brother used to feed me like a kid.

Just because it was on both the breasts, they had to do surgery. They were not able to remove the small lumps, after all the Chemo, my PET scan was done & there was good improvement in it. The doctors were happy with the results. They also said it would not spread further because triple-positive cancer spreads very fast & it was caught well on time. That’s why it stopped leaking. Doctors noted that mastectomy is the only to remove the lymph nodes. I used to go for mammography every three months. On the 23rd of November, I went for surgery. 

The doctor said that it would take 6-7 hours, but it took 11 hours. My body was not familiar with anesthesia; I used to wake up in between. This added time to my surgery. They put me in the ICU on the ventilator. This was because of the anesthesia dose; I had difficulty in breathing. They then did the reconstruction of the breast with the help of tubes. They let me stay in the hospital for the night. But after some time, I again woke up. I was not in many senses. That night I didn’t feel much pain in my body. But the following day there was severe pain; I wanted all those tubes to be removed. They removed the ventilator & put me on oxygen. I was not even able to move. That was the time I felt helpless. The doctors did not delay in anything because even a bit of delay could lead to a dangerous situation. I was in the ICU for ten days. I was shifted to the ward for seven days. This was the only time I took off since the treatment started. In mid-January, I got my last radiation. It was 25th Feb 2011 when doctors gave me leave. For three years, I was on a PET scan, but for 5-6 years, I am not going for any PET scan.      

Reacted

I broke down after hearing the news. Although the doctor told me that it’s curable, I had so many things to do & the word cancer itself scared me. Because I wasn’t aware of it, I thought it’s the end. Even my mother was scared. I was running away from reality. I wasn’t accepting the fact. I started going to work the next day. It was not easy.

Side effects 

I got to know from other patients that I will get nausea, and my nails will turn Black, but all this didn’t happen in my case. I got thyroid problems. The first seven days break the body. I was not able to sleep at night. Taking a shower was difficult for me. The loss of hair caused pain. After the 2nd chemo, the menstruation cycle stopped. But after six months, it restarted. It was a surprise for doctors also. Then after the 4th chemo, I got enough courage to see myself without hairs. I lost the taste sensation as well.

Doctors told me that after mastectomy, you could have babies, but you can’t breastfeed them. 

Diet 

I was on boiled food. Make sure whatever you eat should enrich your blood. There was a guy in Bangalore who used to deliver food to cancer patients. Pomegranate helps a lot in recovery as it is beneficial. My taste buds were nill throughout. I was on protein & boiled food thoroughly. 

Lesson

Even though they are not talking to you about this but are silently praying for your recovery, it will sooner or later be known to you. Then there would be people who would have lost hope for you to come back. You should be there to take care of yourself rather than depending on other people. I felt helpless and wrong at the same time. 

Another lesson is to be happy with what the universe has given to you. 

Things to avoid 

 Try to avoid using cosmetics, especially during chemotherapy. Avoid having viral fever. Avoid bathing with any soap.

Learning 

  • No matter what, you will be judged. Just ignore them because those shallow-minded people would never get it. If you focus on them, it can suffocate you. So, don’t make yourself gagged. 
  • Love & Value yourself more than anyone. Don’t let yourself taken for granted.
  • It’s important to be kind & compassionate. It is rare but be kind.

Message 

Stand tall, keep your faith & trust high in the universe. At the divine time, the miracle can happen, so keep that positivity always. Believe in the power of the universe. Remember all the small moments you have with your family or anyone. Just be grateful.  

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