It was May 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, and since there was a lockdown, I was working from home and managing my house simultaneously. I started experiencing pain in my shoulder and had a virtual call with my usual physician. He prescribed a few muscle relaxants and painkillers for me. I took the medicines regularly, but the pain had not reduced seven days later. I also noticed that I felt bloated and decided to have another call with the physician.
This time, he asked me to come to the hospital, so I took all the precautionary measures and visited him. The doctor checked the bloating and referred me to a surgeon who suggested I do an ultrasound scan. The scan showed that I had a 9 cm tumour in my ovary, and the doctor was surprised that I didn’t have any pain until now.
My husband is a government employee, and he was posted at Solapur at that time. The doctor told me to call my husband home and suggested a CT scan with a few other tests to further investigate what was wrong. By the time the results came, my husband had arrived and seeing the results; the gynaecologist referred us to an oncologist.
At that point, we were shocked because I had no symptoms and found it hard to believe I might have cancer. The oncologist ran a hystero pathology test and confirmed that I had ovarian cancer. All of this happened in a span of four days. I first visited the doctor on May 8th, and by May 12th, the disease was confirmed.
We had found that I had ovarian cancer, and the diagnosis showed that the tumour had just started to spread to other parts of my body. So, we could no longer delay the treatment, and the chemotherapy began the next day.
Going through the treatment process
The oncologist had enquired if I had any history of cancer in my family, but none of the women in my family had cancer. Only my father had throat cancer at a later period in his life. But even he was completely cured and died a natural death much later in life. So the fact that I had ovarian cancer shocked my family and me.
The doctor suggested a sandwich treatment process for me where I had to take three rounds of chemotherapy followed by surgery to remove the tumour and another three rounds of chemotherapy. I was administered a very advanced medicine, and when the doctors saw that my body was taking it well, they told me to go through seventeen more rounds of chemotherapy. Everything happened fast for me. I did not have the time to process the situation.
I had a five-year-old daughter then, and I knew I had to stay strong and fight for her. We had gotten a second opinion from a famous doctor in Mumbai over a video call, and he only told me that I would be done with the treatment in six months and then be free. That word “free” really stuck with me and made me focus on what comes after cancer.
When I went to the hospital for the chemotherapy sessions, I noticed a lot of young children going through the same thing I was. I drew motivation from them. If little children could be strong and go through this, I believed I could too.
Alternative treatments and dietary changes I had
When it comes to cancer, I have seen that people tend to move to alternate treatments. I would strongly suggest against it because cancer is a disease that does not give us many chances, and following a scientific treatment tends to work better than anything else.
The only alternative treatments I took were through my diet. I used to take herbal juices that were prescribed in Ayurveda. They became a staple part of my diet, and I took them every morning. Another practice I followed was having turmeric water regularly since it is known to have high anti-cancerous properties.
Apart from these additions, I followed the diet the doctor gave me, which was generally healthy food along with a lot of protein and eggs. This diet made me happy because I am a person who loves eggs, and I enjoyed having them almost every day.
My mental and emotional health during treatment
I am in a much better place now that I have defeated cancer, but during the time of treatment, there were many low points in my life. While I had my family’s full support and love, I still had my lonely journeys in between when I got covid twice during treatment.
The first four days after chemotherapy, I would need help even to stand up, making me wonder if I would ever recover.
My daughter, who wasn’t at an age where she understood what her mom was going through, was very sad that I could not do everything she asked. And when I got covid twice, I had to be isolated away from her for fourteen days each time, and that was an emotionally distressing period for me. I would watch my daughter cry from afar, and that hurt me bad.
Through this journey, my husband was constant support who guided me. He chose what we would do, and I followed him without questions. Even in quarantine, he would send me motivational posts and videos that kept me going.
Apart from these things, I also read a lot of books that inspired me and made sure I kept my mind occupied. I also helped my daughter with her school work as much as possible so that my day was filled and I did not have time for intrusive thoughts.
My message to the patients
One thing I would tell anyone going through this journey is that it is okay. Whatever came into your life came for a reason. Accept it and work through it without losing your sense of hope. There will be difficult days, and you will not enjoy the process or feel good all the days, but trust that there are better days ahead and face life with a positive attitude.