It all started in December 2019. I had a viral fever for many days, some frequent infections, and a throat infection, which was not getting better even after taking medications.
Blood Cancer Diagnosis
Initially, it was suspected that I might have tuberculosis, and I underwent FNAC, but the reports were negative. Everyone was happy that it was not tuberculosis, but deep inside, I thought it might be something major if it was not tuberculosis.
I went for my blood tests and found that the blast cells count was 79%, and my hemoglobin level had reduced to seven. I became so weak that I was not able to sit for long hours and do the job. I decided to take some rest. Though all other counts were normal, the doctor asked for some tests and confirmed that it was Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a type of blood cancer.
Blood Cancer Treatment
The very next day, I took a flight to Mumbai. My brother lives in Mumbai, and he was the only one who could give me proper care. I consulted various doctors, and on the third day, I got admitted to Tata Memorial Hospital. Everything was going so fast that I could not understand anything.
It was a four-month treatment for blood cancer, and I was in the hospital most of the time. I underwent chemotherapy. In between my treatment, we got to know about lockdown and corona, and then it became a difficult journey because my parents couldn't come to meet me. It was only my brother and sister-in-law who took care of me. I am blessed that my brother and sister-in-law never made me feel alone. It was a lockdown period, so we could not even go for counseling; my brother was there to counsel and motivate me.
Lockdown made my blood cancer journey more difficult, and I became weak and lost 13 kg weight. I used to feel so upset because I was a person known for my excellent physic and strength, so watching myself in that weak state was hard. Since my childhood, I used to have very long hair, and hair loss during the treatment affected me because I had never imagined myself without those long hair. The most challenging part of my cancer journey was dealing with hair loss.
I always dealt with every situation very positively, but the worst thing I did on my cancer journey was that I judged myself for having a breakdown. I used to listen to the motivational video and see how bravely they dealt with everything, so I believed that I could not be that strong. Gradually, I made myself understand that it's my journey, and I would not compare it to anyone else's journey.
The biggest motivation for me was the children running and enjoying in the hospital while taking their treatment. After seeing these kids, I decided I would also not worry about the future and take it one day at a time. Whenever I felt low, I used to think that I needed to fight, recover, and meet my mom after the lockdown. I have great friends, and they all were always with me. I got so much support, love, and blessings from my office colleagues too. They helped me financially also.
I used to do painting and sketching in my school times, but then I left it because I didn't have time. But when I got admitted to the hospital and had a lot of time, I started sketching a lot. I also used to pen down my emotions on paper.
It was a difficult journey, but as we say, "All's well that ends well. Just after the week of my treatment completion, I was able to run and work.
I always wanted to share my journey because I used to see Tahira Kashyap and Sonali Bendre's profile and think that there will be a time when people will believe that cancer is treatable by seeing me surviving through it.
Cancer has changed me
Before blood cancer, I was very much stressed, even though my eating habits were good, and I used to work out and take care of myself in every possible way. The only thing which was not in my control was stress. I feel that not being mentally okay, stressed, and some bad experiences made me numb, and I was not feeling good. Life was just going on, but I was not living my life to the fullest. Now, I realized that the essential thing in life is enjoying the present. I am grateful for the experience. I learned to enjoy life, and I can lead my life in a better direction.
I wanted to do a lot in my life, and that's what kept me going. As soon as I recovered, I joined a belly dancing class because I have always wanted to learn belly dancing. I started traveling and doing everything I wanted to do in my life. I did the Kedarnath trek. I am surprised at how we underestimate our body even when our body has the power to heal itself, but all we need is a positive mind. I am a happy person. I don't think much about the future and enjoy what I have today. My cancer journey brought many positive changes in my life that were important for me. I am grateful for every breath. I feel more energetic than before.
Don't judge yourself for feeling low. If you feel like crying, then cry; it's a challenging journey, but you will get through this. You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. Caregivers also need counseling.`