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Monica Gulati (Urinary Bladder Cancer): How Cancer Taught Me to Live

Monica Gulati (Urinary Bladder Cancer): How Cancer Taught Me to Live

I finished a PhD in NeuroImmunology from the University of Zurich in 2009. For some reason, I decided to quit science right after my PhD. During my research on autoimmune diseases like Myasthenia Gravis and Multiple Sclerosis, I felt I would never be able to come close to a cure for these autoimmune conditions solely through science. I felt the need for a perspective on the mental and emotional aspects of the patients as well, and only then could a holistic, integral approach be planned.

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I came back to India to be with my parents and began working with an organization dealing with college students, where I tried to instill a sense of actualization in them to live an authentic life. That work somehow resonated deeply with me. In 2010, I met my partner Lokesh and felt a deep connection with him. We then married in May of 2010.

Post-marriage, I found myself confined to the limited roles of a daughter-in-law or a wife, overlooking my true life purpose. It felt like I was squeezing into a tight-fitting shirt, with discomfort seeping from its roots. I became aware of all these invisible incidents after my cancer diagnosis, realizing the profound importance of life.

And that is why I believe Cancer came as a friend to me, bringing light into my life in disguise. In 2014, after the birth of our second child, I was diagnosed with Stage I Cancer of the Urinary Bladder.

It started with a bit of bleeding in my urine. Since the bleeding used to clear itself after a couple of urines and was completely painless, I thought it to be a UTI. But it wasn't. In the beginning phases, it used to happen occasionally. But I got worried when the frequency increased to once and sometimes twice weekly. I did an ultrasound, which revealed some abnormal cell growth in my urinary bladder.

The Sonologist suspected something sinister was going on in my bladder. And then, I went to a Urologist, who agreed with the opinion of the Sonologist and pointed out the abnormal growth in the bladder.

I was suggested TURBT, a Surgery to remove the tumors from the bladder. My world came to a standstill. The whole world and its activities did not matter. My attention turned entirely within. Somehow my mind became highly vigilant. I somehow had a forfeit that these were my emotions which had led to this concoction manifesting now as Cancer.

It was as if I was getting a practical demonstration of the thought at which I finished my PhD. Thoughts and emotions are the ones that influence the body, and an impaired balance manifests in the body as a disease or as a symptom. Now I had a very intimate experiment to fiddle around with.

Very soon, I found a mentor who helped me emotionally detox and guided me to break free from my mental and emotional confines. I postponed my surgery for these three months to engage in weekly sessions with my mentor. After this period, I had expelled fear from my system and was prepared to face whatever lay ahead with gratitude. I underwent the surgery followed by a standard course of BCG instillations in the bladder for about five months. Thanks to my improved mental state, I was able to make peace with my circumstances, feeling calmer and more composed than ever before. Now, I am deeply grateful for my life and am determined to live it to the fullest.

There were painful phases during the treatment, but luckily with the support of the whole family and my newfound faith in the Universe, all was just a matter of time.

I am thankful that cancer happened to me. It awakened me to my essence, to my inner being. It revealed the love that often lies concealed within all of us. Cancer dealt a shattering blow to my ego and rooted me in faith in the Universe and its creation. The Universe is not against us; it is for us. Whatever unfolds in life is merely a signal to delve deeper and draw closer to our true selves.

If Cancer had not happened, I would have spent a lifetime fitting into those little roles, too constricted to contain the divinity and spark of light we all are. However, now that I have known the truth, I can do justice to any role I play.

I feel I was living with an even more severe illness than Cancer. I was hardly living a more prosperous and fuller life. But now, I cherish each day as it comes, and I do not worry much about the future about to happen occurrences, suffocating myself in the present.

I feel a strong faith has emerged as a result of cancer, believing that if the Universe sets me on a path, it will ensure I am taken care of. However, it's not a passive state of living. I engage in works that deeply touch and evolve me, keeping me closer to my essence. It could be anything. I consider the only 'Swadharma' to be being in touch with the light we are gifted with; everything else is secondary. Even cancer or remission then becomes secondary.

I have developed a solid, deep connection with Kabir, an intuitive connection with the Dohas, with his songs from the folk oral traditions. I now run a Kabir Circle in my community, where we sing and discuss Dohas and songs, relate them to our daily lives, and share our experiences. I am also profoundly associated with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, which inspires me and nourishes my soul.

Whatever I engage in, I make sure that it is one with my whole being and that I am not shredded into pieces while doing anything. And this is what Cancer has gifted it to me.

I wonder how this tail of a dog that I was (maybe still am) would have ever straightened up if I did not have the noose of Cancer hanging over my head.

There is a belief that the difficulties we are gifted with bring light in disguise. It may be a difficult person, a problematic family, or a challenging situation. The role of the Universe is to help us get in touch with our light; for that, different situations are created, which we start to label as good or bad. They are neither good nor bad; their only motive is to help us recognize that light.

Lastly, I would like to share some books that helped me during my journey:

Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani
Consciousness Heals by Dr Newton Kondaveti
Infinite Self by Stuart Wilde
The Journey by Brandon Bays
Integral Healing by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

I feel grateful to all the mentors and Gurus I met on this path and seekers that I have been blessed to connect with.

Since 2016 I have been healthy: mentally, emotionally, and physically. And now I feel my life has just begun.

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