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I was diagnosed with cancer for the first time in 2010 ... and 6 years later I will say that my battle with cancer has, if anything only made me mentally stronger.

2010 June saw one of the darkest clouds that hovered over my family, when I was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer. Running to and fro from the hospital, waiting for reports hoping for the best but mentally preparing myself for the worst was definitely not the mindset I had hoped to be in during the Upanayanam ceremony of my 8 year old grandson. However, life is not a fairytale, and ups and downs are an integral part of it.

Ours is a close knit joint family, and seeing my brother-in-law i.e my late husband's elder brother, suffer from cancer and expecting to undergo something similar was a scary thought, no doubt. I was extremely apprehensive about the course of treatment that I would have to take, and the pain that might follow. However my gynaecologist Dr. Pushpa, who was also a family friend, was extremely encouraging. She held my hand at every step, and working as a team with my surgical oncologist, they operated and removed my uterus and ovaries. All this while, my brother-in-law was a huge pillar of strength and support, and being a cancer patient himself, and seeing the way he fought his cancer inspired me to fight and stay strong.

The darkness hovering over my family seemed slowly to get lighter. I would say that it almost disappeared when all the reports after the surgery were extremely encouraging and said that my body was now completely devoid of cancer and that there was no need for any further treatment. Life came back to normal and I was my active self once again.

However, this victory was short lived. My happiness at conquering cancer soon turned into horror when the unwanted visitor paid another visit in May 2013. I was sick, and the symptoms were such that I immediately contacted my gynaecologist. After a thorough examination, she suggested that I should go to another oncologist, Dr. Sachin Madra. The biopsy showed that it was a malignant tumour.

This relapse of Cancer after gap of 3 years shook me completely. Being mentally unprepared for such an eventuality, I found it excessively difficult to come to terms with it. However even at that point of time my family was extremely supportive, and assured me that they would stand by me and fight this battle along with me whatever my decision might be. It was then that I decided that I would go and meet my oncologist. I met him with an open mind.

I had a long talk with him and after that I was on two minds on whether or not I should go in for further treatment. I doubted myself and wondered if I had it in me to withstand the treatment. At this stage the encouragement that Doctor Sachin provided and his sincerity and positive attitude towards my case served as a huge factor in helping me decide that I would go ahead with the treatment. Thereafter I was introduced to Dr. Amit who was my radiation oncologist. I began my treatment.

Radiation is not a painful treatment, and in terms of physical dicomfort during the treatment, I experienced nothing. However, just like any medicine, this also had certain side-effects that are not very pleasant.

This treatment left me extremely exhausted. In fact, I became so tired that at one point of time I seriously started contemplating if I should continue treatment or quit midway. However, life has taught me not to quit, and I have always battled out all the difficulties that life threw my way. This was just another hurdle that I was determined to jump over. My family was my pillar of strength during this tough phase, and I would even say that they provided me with the greatest incentive to fight, and win this battle.

Not just that, but my doctors were also extremely nice about the whole thing. They were exceptionally patient, always encouraging the countless doubts and numerous questions that I had. In fact, they explained all the procedures in great detail, and in such simple terminology that even someone who had no medical knowledge, such as me, found that she could understand everything. This was also one of the reasons I decided to finish treatment.

Come Nov 2013, and this treatment was now behind me. All my test reports were promising, and my doctors were quite happy with them. I was slowly recovering, and with the passing of each day, I became more and more hopeful that I might have at last conquered this unconquerable disease.

One has to accept everything that comes your way, and that is the only way one can remain happy and find a reason to smile.

I am a philosophical person, and believe that there is some power in the universe that controls the life strings of every person. Different people perceive this force in different ways. I worship it in the form of Lord Krishna, while someone else might say it's the power of your mind and your determination to succeed. Another might say that this force comes in the form of the doctors and nurses that treat you and rid your body of diseases.

3 years later, I would say my journey has not been simple. There have been countless times when I was irritable, cranky and rude. In short, I have been a very difficult patient at times. However, my family have all been gems. All of them, including my two teenaged grandchildren, were always kind and patient with me, and never took my cribbing to heart. My humble request to the families of all patients is to do the same, because being cheerful and cooperative amidst such pain is a very difficult thing to do.

In conclusion, I would like to say that if my story reaches out to at least one other person; is successful is helping at least one person to fight and conquer this deadly disease; I will feel like I have achieved something noteworthy in my life. This is all I have to say. Thank you.

It all started with a small lump in my left breast. Initially, I assumed it to be just a cyst and hoped it would disappear on its own. However, when it persisted for a few months coupled with a sharp pain during periods, I didn’t feel right so I made an appointment with a gynecologist who, after clinical examination, prescribed some antibiotics and pain killers. The pain soon disappeared but not the lump.

Though the lump didn’t grow in size, the sharp pain (only during periods) returned after almost a year. I consulted a different gynecologist this time, who too assured me that everything was fine and prescribed antibiotics along with vitamin D and calcium supplements.

Six months later, I got to the stage where I could barely walk a few steps. The pain in my low back and left leg was the hardest to cope with and wouldn’t let me sleep – not even the strongest pain medication provided me relief.

A visit to an orthopedic surgeon, followed by a couple of x-rays and an MRI scan revealed multiple bone lesions in my vertebrae. I was told to undergo a PET whole body scan to establish the problem. The PET scan signalled the probability of a breast cancer with metastasis to bones. It was, to say the least, unexpected. Cancer was the furthest thing from my mind. At the time, I was 31 and there’s no history of breast or other cancers in my family.

On the advice of my cousin, an orthopedic surgeon in Mumbai, we met Dr. Sachin Subhash Marda, a surgical oncologist at Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad. After a thorough diagnosis, Dr. Sachin did what he thought was the best way to deal with my situation – lumpectomy, followed by an appropriate therapy. He didn’t recommend chemotherapy right away – he wanted to avoid the uncomfortable side-effects of chemotherapy unless it was absolutely necessary, but emphasized that the ultimate decision rests with me.

The following day, Dr. Sachin successfully removed the lump and sent it for biopsy to determine whether or not it was malignant and if I was likely to benefit from hormone therapy. However, rather than waiting for the biopsy results, he immediately put me on hormone therapy and on a regimen to help better control the pain.

The biopsy confirmed the lump to be malignant – I was diagnosed with ER+/PR+, HER- Infiltrating / Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Grade 2. I made the decision to not pursue chemotherapy (fortunately, there was no spread to vital organs and little lymph node involvement) and just rely on hormone therapy. My post-surgery treatment consisted Tamoxifen 20mg, to be taken once a day, and Osteophos 35 mg, to be taken once a week.

Two months after starting the treatment, another PET scan revealed that the spread was down by 1/3rd in my vertebrae and almost disappeared in the rest of the body. Incredible! Dr. Sachin continued the therapy – a subsequent PET scan taken after 6 months and other diagnostic tests (tumor marker tests) showed no visible signs of cancer. Today, I’m continuing with maintenance therapy and return to Dr. Sachin for check-ups every three months. I’ll always be grateful to Dr. Sachin for his meticulous diagnosis and treatment plan, especially keeping in mind my mental state.

It’s been a little over a year since I was diagnosed with the dreaded disease. I’m slowly getting back to the routines of daily life. Though it sounds strange, cancer brought a lot of clarity to my life. It gave me an opportunity to make positive changes in my life for the better.

Now, I consider it my essential duty to share what I’ve learned during my journey.

Fear: The hardest part of going through cancer treatment is actually the fear – the fear of uncertainty, the fear of treatment side-effects and of course, the fear of death and leaving loved ones behind! You can’t fight properly when you’re afraid. I let go of the fear by reposing faith in God; it also gave me the strength to fight the battle.

Self-motivation: Cancer is your personal fight and you want to win that fight. So, it’s very important to stay positive. I could win the battle because of constant self-motivation and by staying close with my family.

Medication and exercise: Stress and negative thoughts contribute to sickness – try to avoid them by doing meditation. Also, exercise daily – walking, running, cycling, cardio – whatever you’re comfortable with.

Proper diet: Nutrition is an important part of cancer treatment. Eating the right kind of food during and after treatment can help you feel better and stay stronger and longer. My husband did an extensive research on what food is the best for me to eat because of the type of cancer I had. For example, he observed that cruciferous vegetables are very important for women fighting breast cancer.

My diet consists of:

  • • 1 glass of wheatgrass juice in the morning
  • • A bunch of tulsi leaves in the afternoon
  • • A cup of green tea and a small bowl of dry fruits in the evening
  • • 1 glass of carrot juice in the night
  • • 1 glass of milk mixed with turmeric and pepper powder (just before going to bed)

I also make sure to eat lot of green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits that are rich in antioxidants.

Family support: The role that family plays in a cancer patient’s life is simply undeniable. After diagnosis, the patient may experience sadness, anxiety, anger, or even hopelessness. Family can help engage the patient in their normal activities. I know that I never could have made it through cancer without the support of my family. Having my husband and my mother as my caregivers kept me strong during the treatment and surely will keep me strong for the road ahead.

Final word

Cancer doesn’t discriminate – it can affect anyone irrespective of age, ethnicity and economic status. We all need to be proactive about our health and eliminate unhealthy habits from our lives.

Remember! Cancer isn’t a death sentence, it’s just a wake-up call – early detection is key in fighting cancer.

నేను విజేతను !

నమస్కారం !

ఇదో జీవన సతయం. మురతయయవుప ై సమరం. ఆతమ విశ్కాసంతో స్కధ ంచిన ఆరోగ్య విజయం. ఇహ లోకంలో దేవతలుగక భావించ ేడాకటరుల , అనుక్షణం కంటికి రెప్పలా చూసుకునే భారకయ పిలులు, నితయం నా క్షేమానిి కకంక్షషంచే తల్లుదండ్రులు, బంధువులు, ఎందరో ఆత్మమయ స్నిహితయల ఆకకంక్షలు,దీవనెల కకరణంగక నేనీ గ్ండ్ం నుంచి విజయవంతంగక బయట ప్డాానని సగ్రాంగక చెప్పగ్లను. నిజమే! ఎప్ుపడో, ఏ వేళనో, మనకు తెల్లయని ఓ దురలమహూరత వేళ రెకాలు విచుుకుని ఒక విషకణం ప్కుణాంతక వకయధ గక ప్రిణమంచి, శరీరకనిితొలుసతుని విషయం తెల్లస్ినప్ుపడ్ర మేమర అనుభవించిన బాధ, వేదన వరణనాత్మతం.. నిజమే మనం జీవితంలో ఎప్ుపడ్ూ ఊహించని ఒక దుససంఘటన జరిగనిప్ుపడ్ర ప్కతాళంలోకి కరుంగి ప్ోతాం. చుటటట చీకటి అలుమరకునిటటట తలుడషల్లు ప్ోతాం. కకని ఆ రోజు డాకటర్ వంశీధరరెడాష ఒకే ఒక మాట అనాిడ్ర. "మీకేం ఫరకాలేదు. నూటికి నూరల శ్కతం మీకు తగిిప్ోతయంద . ధెైరయంగక వుండ్ండష. " అని. ఆ మాటే మాలో ఆతమవిశ్కాసం నింపింద . మరనుమరందుకు నడషపించింద .

ఈ కథలో నేను హీరోనెైతే, నా శరీరంలో నా ప్ముేయం లేకుండా తన స్కముాజయయనిి విసతరించుకుని విషకణమే విలన్! మరి ఆ విలన్ని ఎలా జయంచానో... మరనుప్టిలా నా జీవన గ్మనానిి ఎలా కొనస్కగిసతునాినో తెల్లయచప్ెపడ్మే ఈ 'అక్షర' లక్షయం!! నాపనరల కకప్రతి వీరేందు. చద వింద ఎం. ఏ( తెలుగ్ర సహతియం), ప్కత్రుకేయ వుుత్రతలో ప్కత్రకేళళ అనుభవం. ఆ తరకాత స్ినిమా టివి రంగకలతో మూడ్ర దశ్కబాాల అనుబంధం. కొనిి స్ీరీయల్సస నిరకమణం, కొంతకకలం దరశకతాం, ఆ తరకాత రచనా వకయసంగ్ం. ఇప్పటికీ రచనే నా వుుత్రత. ప్వుుత్రత కుడా. నా బారయ పనరల ప్గ్ుత్ర. స్ీనియర్ జరిల్లస్టట. మాకు ఒక బాబర, ప్కప్. చిని కుటటంబం, చింతలేని కుటటంబంలా స్కగ్రతయనిసమయంలో ఒక రోజు అకస్కమతతయగక ఉరలమరలు, మెరలప్ులు లేకుండానే పిడ్రగ్ర ప్డషంద ....

సుమారల మూడేళళ కరితం ఒక రోజు కడ్రప్ులో బాగక నొపిప అనిపించి మా ఇంటికి సమీప్ం లోని స్ీనియర్ డాకటర్ దామోదర్ రెడాష గకరి దగ్ిరి కెళ్ళం.. ఆయన ' ఇద మామూలు నొపిప కకకప్ోవచుు, దగ్ిరుో వుని గకయస్టోోఎంటరకలజిస్టట డాకటర్ వంశీధర్ రెడాష వదాకు వెళళమని' సలహా ఇచాుడ్ర. ఇతను నాకు దారిచూపిన మొదటి దెైవం. ఆయన వెంటనే కొనిి ప్రీీ్క్షలు చేయంచి, ననుి యశ్ోదా ఆసపత్రులోని ప్మురఖ సరిికల్స ఆంకకలజిస్టట, డాకటర్ సచిన్ మరాకకు రెఫర్ చేశ్కరల. సరెైన సమయం లో సరనెై డాకటర్ దగ్ిరికి ప్ంపించిన డాకటర్ వంశీధర్ రెడాష నా ప్కల్లట రెండ్వ దెైవం. ఆ రోజు డాకటర్ సచిన్ని చూడ్గకనే ఇప్ుపడ్ర నేను సరనెై వయకతి రక్షణలోనే వునాిననిపించింద . ఆ తరకాత ఆయన విజయవంతంగక సరిరీ చేయడ్ం, తరకాత కీమో, తరకాత కరమబదధమెైన జీవితం.. ఇలా చూసతుండ్గకనే మూడేళళళ గ్డషచిప్ోయాయ. ఇప్ుపడ్ర యధాప్ూరా జీవితం కొనస్కగసి తునాిను. అసలోక మహమామరి నుంచి నా జీవితం విమరకతమెైందని విషయం కూడా ఇప్ుపడ్ర మరిుప్ోీ్యాను. కొతత జీవితంలో సరికొతత ఉతాసహంతో ఉరకలేస్న కొంగొతత జీవన స్ౌరభానిి ఆస్కాద సతునాిను. ఇదీ ఓ ప్కుణాంతక మహమామరిప ై ఒక స్కమానుయడ్ర స్కధ ంచిన విజయగకధ.

మరి దీనికి కకరణం ఎవరల? రోగకనిి ఊహించిన మొదటి డాకటర్, వకయధ ని కనిప టటని రెండ్వ డాకటర్, ఆ విషకణానిి శసతర చికితస దాారక తొలగించి నాకు విమరకతిని ప్స్ుకద ంచిన మరఖయమెైన మరడ్వ డాకటర్.. నా ప్కుణదాత.. డాకటర్ సచిన్. వీరందరికీ నా నమోవకకమరలు. మరఖయంగక సచిన్ గకరికి జీవితాంతం రలణప్డష వుంటాను. వీరితో ప్కటట అనుక్షణం నా వెంటే వుంటట నాకు అమతమెైన గ్రండె ధెైరకయనిి, ఆతమవిశ్కాస్కనిి అంద ంచిన నా సహధరమచారిణి, నా ఇదారల పిలులు, కషటకకలంలో నాకు మానస్కింగక అండ్గక నిల్లచిన తల్లు దండ్రులు, అతతమమ, నా భరయ స్ొదరి కుటటంబం, నా తోబరటటటవులు కూడా ప్ధుాన కకరకులే. వీరందరి సహకకరం, పద ాల ఆశీసుసలే లేకుంటే నేనిలా నిలబడేవకనిే కకదు. చివరగక ఒకా మాట. ఆశ మన శ్కాసగక మారకల్ల. ఆతమవిశ్కాసం ధాయసగక నిలవకల్ల. అప్ుపడ్ర అదెంత విషతయలయమెైనా ... చివరకు హాలాహలమెైనా మనం గ్రళ కంఠలనిలా దానిి లయం చేసుకోగ్లుగ్రతాం...అనిిటికనాి మరఖయమెైంద గెలవకలనిసంకలపం. గెల్లచిత్మరకలనిలక్షయం. గెలుపన ఆశయంగక ప్యనం. అంత్రమంగక మనదే విజయం!!

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