Cervical cancer has been called a silent cancer because symptoms often are not present until later stages. The medical association has been emphatic about how important it is for a woman to get regular pap smears. From a holistic point of view, it may also be important to get medical testing if you suspect your body may be harbouring imbalance to the point that cancer may be a risk for you. I did not even know about cervical cancer until I was told I had it. It was for me a simple case of excessive bleeding along with clots during monthly periods which I mentioned to my Mom and she panicked and took me to my gynaecologist Dr. Kiran Coelho who did all the required investigations and biopsy to conclude that I had cervical cancer. I remember, I was sitting with my mum and dad in the waiting area of the hospital for us to be called in by the Dr. but only my father was called inside and that triggered my anxiety as to why the doctor had only asked my dad to come in first and after about twenty mins my mom and I were called in too. I was not told anything yet about my condition but I could sense something was amiss because my Dad’s face was flushed pink. Anyways, a week later I was to undergo sonography and surprisingly my entire family was there with me for a seemingly regular sonography because they all knew that I had cervical cancer and they were all contemplating how they would break that news to me. As I mentioned, I had already sensed something was amiss so immediately after my sonography test, I asked the doctor upfront and in a matter of fact tone if I had cancer and she honestly answered in positive confirming the same. When I came out, to the relief of my anxious and stressed family, I announced that I knew I had cancer so they can breathe easy since they didn’t have to be the harbinger of bad news. They were surprised to my absolute normal acceptance of the same.
My brother visited all the best doctors in quest of finding the right one for me treating me here in India as I was against the idea of being treated abroad. Finally his doctor friend referred us to doctor Sachin Almel and only after having all his doubts cleared, did duggu agree to let me be treated under the able hands of Dr.Sachin. When I was scheduled for my first chemotherapy, I was taken to an ICU as a precautionary measure so that I would not develop any complications and even each drug was given to me separately. In all of this chaos, the only question I would keep asking the doctor was if I would lose my hair. I must have asked him the same question at least 15 times if not more. The fact is that the dreaded word ‘cancer’ did not really worry me but losing my hair or shaving my hair did. My family never saw me in tears during this phase of me fighting cancer never once did I get depressed nor negative about it but, the thought of losing hair did really depress me. My brother would scan the net and ask all possible people to see if there was any way a cancer patient did not lose hair, but he found no solution. It apparently was an unavoidable side effect of the chemo sessions and one had to accept this fact as it is.
Immediately after my first chemo, my hair started falling in clumps so I decided to get my head shaved and wear a wig. I ordered 3-4 different styles of wigs and then I went to the Salon with Mom for my head shave. It technically was the most dreadful day of my life and I could not gather the guts to look at myself in the mirror. It took me about 45 mins before I actually saw myself and my heart ached at my sight. I wore the wig and tried to put a brave front in front of all but actually it was a real torture that lasted for about 8 to 10 months. You know the inside of the wig is made of Nylon and it would itch and sweat which use to get worse if I was out in the sun as I used to sweat a lot that trickled down my face and neck as if I had stepped out of shower. After seeing me bald, my dad would try to make me feel better by joking about how the shape of my head was better than his. The one person who was most affected seeing me bald was my brother, he tried his best to control his tears in front of me. He was hoping that there maybe even 0.1% chance that his sister didn’t have to shave her head off. Even my daughter (who was too young at that point in time) knew what was happening to her mother and though she never expressed much, she would always try to make me smile.
But through all this trauma, I realised one thing and that was that only I could put a smile back on my face. I had to fight my inner pathos and accept the fact that what was done was done and I had to move on positively after all it was only a matter of time and my hair would definitely grow back. I am sure that my family must have gone through a lot of pain seeing me go bald but they kept their emotions at bay and gave me immense support. I had to undergo 6 sessions of chemo every 3 weeks and my father would also come along with me and mom to give me emotional support. He would be there till the chemo started and once the IV was inserted he would leave while mom would stay back with me.
My taste buds had been damaged because of the chemo and I was fed baby food as everything lost its flavour and tasted bland. My room had been turned into a freezer since chemo also results in heat flushes. Infact I went through my last two chemos while I was working on the sets of Krazzy 4 and I used to be pampered like a Queen there on the film sets. I never treated cancer as a death defying illness. I had accepted the fact that I had it and I was strong enough to fight it. From a spiritual perspective, it’s important to stay clear of the fear vibration such tests may create within the body. Obviously love plays a big role but so does meditation, as do prayers and the support of positive friends. It is important that only positive energy flows through your body and your very positive thought process helps the body to heal.
One of the people who called me during this phase of my life to check on me and give me support was Priyanka Chopra. She was not sure if it was ok to call me not knowing how I would react or if I was traumatic and low. She actually consulted duggu and only after he said it was ok, she called me. When we spoke, she surprisingly asked if she was actually talking to me because for a patient diagnosed with cancer, I was anything but depressed. She couldn’t believe that I was so full of life even at that point. Then there were close friends and family who would come to visit me and the minute they would see me, they would start crying out of sympathy and I would be the one counselling them instead, telling them that I was fine and I would definitely be ok in no time.
While I went through cervical cancer, I was being bold and positive and lively et al… but I can only imagine what my family must have gone through emotionally, mentally and physically as well at the thought of losing me. It is very important to have a positive and loving support system to lift you up during such times. I would cry a lot (and it’s very normal when you were fighting a life threatening illness) but, I made sure that I would cry only behind the closed doors of my room. On the front, I had to be super strong daughter, sister and mother. I knew that I had to survive for my loved ones as much as for my own self. It actually took almost 3 years of treatment before the doctor could confidently say that I was cancer free. Since my recovery, I’ve always prayed that one day soon, cancer is just a zodiac sign. To all my friends out there, I appeal to you that please do not ignore any symptoms both physical and emotional. The most common, chronic emotional states that supports the development of cancer in the body include Bitterness, Resentment, Suppressed rage, Guilt, Self-Hatred et al… So if you feel emotionally susceptible, please seek help medically as well as through various healing methods to calm you down. Women sometimes feel that breast cancer and cervical cancer is not a common disease but that’s not true. Please give yourself some importance and get yourself checked regularly. Do reach out to people who are scared to come out in the open, your support may save a life.
Next chapter for July 11, 2018.