I was first diagnosed with Covid in June 2020. My mother was covid positive as well. I prioritized my family’s health over mine, and so, I kept shut about this news.
When I went through the usual Covid reports, the report from the hospital said, and I quote, ‘Fibroadenoma’ (non-cancerous lump). When things became better, I went to my Gynaecologist, who confirmed the same.
My parents knew, after an eight-hour operation, that this was cancer. I got to know about it a month later, though I had heard the word ‘cancer’ in my OTE. It was an attempt to remain in denial on my part.
It is funny that your parents are never ready to break it out to you. Brown parents can’t talk to you about breakups or sex or periods. Imagine their plight in talking about something so big.
The process was excruciating for me, both physically and mentally. When the news broke to me, I started blaming myself and everyone around me. I broke down and felt extremely vulnerable. I didn’t want to do it anymore.
But then I used to look around the cancer hospital only to realize that there are so many warriors around me, and I am not alone in this. Chemotherapy took a toll on my body. I felt drained out and would sleep for 2-3 days. After that, I could not eat or even walk to the washroom - it was that draining.
Seeing me like this did break my mother. She remembered all the possible Gods and took reassurance from as many people around as she could.
So, I work as an organizer for a mother and kids’ exhibition. Along with this, I am a designer at a creative brand that I have opened myself. I kept myself busy during my chemotherapy days by giving free shootouts and talked to my clients. Apart from this, I looked at the small things in life which would make me happy. I used to paint and plant trees to elevate my mood in any way possible.
I celebrated the culmination of my treatment getting over by creating an Instagram hashtag called #warriormoon. I even went on a trip to Goa to celebrate overcoming this treatment.
I had to do these little things to get back the confidence to think past the love of my life getting married, among other things. I even mustered enough courage to get back on dating apps and was happy to come across some great people.
For example, people used to come to my parents to ask about my marriage and its fate.
Provided I am a 30-year-old cancer patient. The dating apps then provided me with the confidence to look much beyond certain stereotypes.
Me talking about this is motivation enough for so many people who slide into my DMs telling me the same. Moreover, I used to be touched by the 1–2-year-olds in the cancer hospital, oblivious of what is happening and creating no drama whatsoever. It made me wonder if they can make it, why can’t I?
Additionally, I want to tell my story because I have only come across people from other countries talking about their cancer journey through hashtags. Therefore, it becomes even more important for an Indian and especially a young woman like myself to break the fourth wall and talk to create awareness.
Funny, Indians never want to talk about cancer. They don’t want to talk about diabetes or any other chronic illness, for that matter, let alone cancer. I believe this communication gap further creates a jarring divide between cancer survivors and the rest of the country.
Once, I came across a receptionist who denied radiation therapy to a man because he could not deposit the fee. It broke my heart. I wanted to help him and others alike, and so I went on to donate as much as I could on various NGO platforms working for a noble cause. I was lucky enough to have been provided for, but not everyone is the same, right? Helping each other is the least we can do, I suppose!
Lastly, cancer can happen to anyone. It is not at all about bad habits only. It can be hereditary as well (my grandmom had it). Therefore, cancer patients should go easy on themselves. There is no point in hiding their bald look as they have already been so bold all this while. Be proud of what you have achieved and flaunt yourself to others out there. Break as many taboos as you can so that there are more and more people to reach out to and talk.