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A compilation of inspirational cancer survivor stories from Indian women who tell us how they successfully put the ordeal behind them.
Why are cancer survivor stories inspiring?
A cancer diagnosis can change the reality of the patient and their family overnight. Coming to terms with the diagnosis is the first difficult step. There are a lot of things that the patient will have to figure out following this. The financial and caregiving burden can also take a toll on the immediate family members of the patient.
Caregivers often struggle with the role-reversal that happens when the patient is a woman. This is because Indian women are typically caregivers of their families. However, there are many inspiring cancer survivor stories of women who have emerged victorious in their battle against cancer.
Apart from appropriate medical care, the survivor’s grit and mental strength play a great role in their road to being cancer-free. The support of caregivers also makes a world of difference.
We bring to you a compilation of such inspirational cancer survivor stories from women. Here, they share their life experiences and tell us how they successfully put the dreadful disease behind them.
Durriya Kapasi is an author who has written 3 books. She is also a creative writing teacher; motivational speaker and a senior Wattpad Ambassador. Settled in Udaipur, she says how her resolve to fight the disease was instrumental in her journey. Putting all her faith in God, and trusting that she would have the strength of a warrior to fight the cancer battle was her mantra. Here is the link to her full story.
Niyati Tamaskar was a busy working mother with two children (one of whom she was breastfeeding!) when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In her raw, unfiltered memoir Unafraid, she discusses the stigma and shame surrounding the disease. She presents the book like a hearty conversation with a friend. Tina Sequeira writes a detailed review of the book here.
Like Niyati, Shormistha Mukherjee was originally not an author, but turned one when she wrote of her experiences with breast cancer. Her book Cancer, You Picked The Wrong Girl offers a refreshingly different perspective.
Akankshya Abismruta received her cancer diagnosis when she was 14 and took 3 years to be declared cancer-free. She says that the matter-of-fact narrative in Shormistha’s book helped her relate it to her own experience. Akankshya says the crucial part of cancer survivor stories is holding space for them to share their unique journey. We should not burden them with the obligation to share life lessons, she opines.
You can read more about Akankshya’s journey and her interpretation of Shormistha’s book here.
Ramya’s family was just grappling with her mother’s advanced breast cancer diagnosis. Barely 4 months later, Ramya found out that she too had the dreadful disease. Her story is fraught with struggles as we learn of her relapse, and her mother passing away after a long battle. What helped her stay strong in the midst of such adversity? Staying informed without paranoia, not forgetting to have a sense of humor, and keeping herself busy are some things that helped her cope. She talks in detail about her story here.
Survivors are sometimes burdened by the expectation to fill their stories with gratitude and inspiration. But Farida Rizwan does not shy away from talking about vulnerable moments from her journey. Although it was her choice to have a radical mastectomy, she talks of how she felt a rush of love for the breast that she was going to lose, the night before her surgery.
Her writing reflects the mixture of difficult emotions of guilt, self-doubt, confusion, anger, and finally relief. She has been cancer free for 25 years since then.
For some others, their tryst with cancer became a turning point in their lives.
Shruti Sharma Anand & Neeti Leekha Chhabra were both young women in their early 30s when they were diagnosed with breast cancer. They were introduced to each other by their oncologist, and soon became friends. Their story gets more inspiring from here as they founded an NGO, “Yes To Life“, conducting awareness talks and programs for various sectors. They also provide financial support to the underprivileged and run support groups that offer counseling services to patients and caregivers. You can read their individual cancer survival stories and more about Yes To Life here.
Panna Bharali is another breast cancer survivor who is now part of a palliative care program called “Pratishruti Cancer Palliative Care Society”. There is no shortage of struggles in her life, as she lost her sister and her mother to ovarian cancer. Knowing the importance of moral support in such difficult times, she chose to do her part by giving up a well-paying job and joining Pratishruti.
She works with families and tries to educate them on how government schemes can help them with funding for treatments. She also handles “Irab-Kirab”, her late sister’s NGO, which works on environmental conservation. Panna’s story is one that you should read if you are seeking inspiration to turn your life around after multiple tragedies.
For Ranjeeta Vinil, surviving breast cancer became the turning point in her life where she found the push to pursue healthcare entrepreneurship. She is the founder and director of Saarathi Healthcare. Her company focuses on Patient Relationship Management, offering counseling and guidance to cancer patients.
She combines her experience in the pharmaceutical industry with the compassion that arose in her seeing patients who did not receive timely assistance as she did. Through Saarathi, she is determined to make a difference in people’s lives. She believes she can be a support system for patients with chronic illnesses like cancer. She talks in detail about it here.
Lakshmipriya (Ell P) and A Y have been caregivers to their mothers through their cancer diagnosis and treatment. Ell P talks of their hospital visits as “mother-daughter dates”. She details how her mother won over the dreadful disease with her cheery sarcasm and self-deprecating humor. It is a story of hope that you can read here.
A.Y calls her mother her hero. Detailing about the diagnosis, treatment, and mastectomy; she talks of how the experience and her mother’s grit changed the family’s perspective. Despite being the one battling the disease, her mother was the one who gave hope to others in the family. She has been cancer-free for 5 years since. You can read in detail about their experience here.
Cancer knows no difference between a common man and a celebrity.
Popular Bollywood stars like Sonali Bendre, Manisha Koirala, Lisa Ray (read her story here), and Mumtaz have shown us their difficult moments from their battles against cancer.
Being from an industry where looks are valued above everything, their journeys are riddled with problems different from that of a common woman.
Despite this, Manisha Koirala and Sonali Bendre have not shied away from sharing photographs from their chemo treatment sessions, where we see their inner beauty and strength shine through. You can read their stories here and here respectively.
The same holds true of Tahira Kashyap! Ayushmann Khurana and Tahira Kashyap are Bollywood’s real #couplegoals! While Tahira has been promoting awareness by sharing moments from her fight against breast cancer, Ayushmann Khurana has not shied away from expressing his awe at her strength in the process. You can read some heartwarming snippets from their journey here.
We hope this inspiring collection of real stories from real Indian women will give you the boost that you need today. If you have a cancer survival story to share, contribute now on Women’s Web, and be the voice that could inspire someone to fight the disease.
Image Courtesy: Photo by Angiola Harry on Unsplash
An engineer turned SAHM of two who wants to be known beyond that. Passionate about words, parenting, making eco-friendly choices, feminism and lifelong learning. read more...
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Rajshri Deshpande, who played the fiery protagonist in Trial by Fire along with Abhay Deol speaks of her journey and her social work.
Rajshri Deshpande as the protagonist in ‘Trial by Fire’, the recent Netflix show has received raving reviews along with the show itself for its sensitive portrayal of the Uphaar Cinema Hall fire tragedy, 1997 and its aftermath.
The limited series is based on the book by the same name written by Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost both their children in the tragedy. We got an opportunity to interview Rajshri Deshpande who played Neelam Krishnamoorthy, the woman who has been relentlessly crusading in the court for holding the owners responsible for the sheer negligence.
Rajshri Deshpande is more than an actor. She is also a social warrior, the rare celebrity from the film industry who has also gone back to her roots to give to poverty struck farming villages in her native Marathwada, with her NGO Nabhangan Foundation. Of course a chance to speak with her one on one was a must!
“What is a woman’s job, Ramesh? Taking care of parents-in-law, husband, children, home and things at work—all at the same time? She isn’t God or a superhuman."
The arrays of workstations were occupied by people peering into their computer screens. The clicks of keyboard keys were punctuated by the occasional footsteps moving around to brainstorm or collaborate with colleagues in their cubicles. Most employees went about their tasks without looking at the person seated on either side of their workstation. Meenakshi was one of them.
The thirty-one-year-old marketing manager in a leading eCommerce company in India sat straight in her seat, her eyes on the screen, her fingers punching furiously into the keys. She was in a flow and wanted to finish the report while the thoughts and words were coming effortlessly into her mind.
Natu-Natu. The mellifluous ringtone interrupted her thoughts. She frowned at her mobile phone with half a mind to keep it ringing until she noticed the caller’s name on the screen, making her pick up the phone immediately.
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