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National Cancer Survivors day in the USA- A tete-a-tete with a Cancer Survivor

The United States Of America celebrates 3rd June as National Cancer Survivors Day. It is a celebration for those who have managed to survive the dreaded ‘C’, an inspiration for people who are currently undergoing treatment. It is also a day for reaching out to people who have cancer and informing them that there is hope and that there are tonnes of people who can inspire and who are as strong as rocks.

While abroad, people still have proper centers to take care of them during their cancer treatment, the scene here in India is not that great. Most of the times people do not realize that they might be suffering from this disease. We have moved into the 21st century and still, cancer is considered as a stigma.

The first thing which comes to anyone’s mind when they think of cancer is Chemotherapy. And the next thing which hits them is that they are going to lose their hair. For most women out there, losing their hair is more traumatic than losing ones breast to cancer. Post-treatment they often find themselves feeling shocked, traumatized and embarrassed.

Just before I sat down to write this article, I had gone through tonnes of videos of cancer survivors on YouTube. What it made me realize, is that in many situations, where even the doctors did not have any hope, it was the patient and his/her family who believed in themselves and in a strong higher power and belief.

We got into a conversation with Dilpreet who is a breast cancer survivor and is based out of Delhi. I had first interacted with Dilpreet on Instagram, and what came through was a very strong woman who lost her mother to cancer, but came roaring out like a lioness herself.

Dilpreet says that women need to be more educated when it comes to their own body. They need to know what exactly they are eating, what practices they are following in their daily routine and in a way they need to be familiar with their body for real.

INTERVIEW

MylifeMykids: Tell us something about yourself and your family?

I’m a stay-at-home Mom and part-time mommy blogger. I have two children aged 5 and 3 years. My husband is a commercial pilot.

We’ve been married for 10 years.

MylifeMykids: Do you have any history of cancer in the family?

Dilpreet: Yes, I do. My maternal side of the family has cancer everywhere.

I lost my mother to ovarian cancer and my aunt to breast cancer.

My grandmother also had breast cancer.

I am also BRCA positive.

MylifeMykids: What was your age, when the doctors first detected cancer? Was it a routine checkup or was there something troubling you?

Dilpreet: I was 30 at the time of discovery. Six months after I had delivered my second child, I started feeling a lump in my breast. Routine procedures suggested that it was more likely to be a blocked or infected milk duct than anything else. I was completely asymptomatic at the time.

MylifeMykids: When the doctor told you, were you alone? What was your initial reaction and what was it two days later?

Dilpreet: My husband was with me through the entire process. It was a huge shock and not completely unexpected. My risk was higher than normal people and I was aware of that.

2 days later, I was in the same boat.

MylifeMykids: How have you, as a person, changed post the treatment? Tell us about both physiological as well as psychological changes you think you have undergone.

Dilpreet: Post the treatment I feel I pay more attention to myself rather than any other person.

If my body is telling me to stop, I now know my threshold.

I feel I’m paying more emphasis on the things I’m consuming in terms of food and keeping my mind more active and spiritually inclined.

My body has undergone severe trauma in terms of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation but I’ve managed to overcome it all.

MylifeMykids: Tell us something about the treatment? How long it took? What got you through it?

Dilpreet: I underwent a massive thirteen-hour surgery as I decided to opt for simultaneous reconstruction and bilateral mastectomy.
Muscle grafting was performed which made the procedure more painful and long in terms of recovery.
Post the surgery, my tumor side did not take to the reconstruction and a second procedure had to be performed to remove the breast.
This was followed by 16 cycles of chemotherapy and 25 days of radiation.
My chemotherapy was a mix of medicines. I also turned to eating a whole lot of greens and fruits during the 6 month period, which helped my body to detox.
Knowing that I had 2 babies who were waiting to be with me wholeheartedly was the thing that kept me going.

Never give up. Never give in. 

MylifeMykids: Do you have a message for other people fighting cancer?

Dilpreet: My message is simple – Eat healthy and exercise.

Have a positive mind, do your research and see what works for your body.

You never know what might work for you.

Have faith, it will take you a long way.

MylifeMykids:  Often as human beings, we tend to avoid the simplest of symptoms which might boil down to something big in future. It is said that 70% of cancers can be treated if you go for early detection. What do you have to say here?

Dilpreet: Of course, it’s true… in general, I feel we have become a race of people that are pushing our bodies to the brink and then we grumble when the body breaks down.

Take me, for example. I had postpartum psychosis after my second child which was leading me to consume painful amounts of sugar. Cancer cells feed on sugar. Mixed with that, because of 2 small children I was not sleeping for more than 3 hours in a night, if I was lucky. My body did not have time to heal itself or recover. It had no choice but to have a breakdown so that I would sit up and take notice.

The mechanics of the human body are simple – keep it healthy, rest well and you will function in a happy manner.

Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.

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Written by Udita

Mommy blogger

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