It was a sunny afternoon of 22nd February, 2015. Winter was at its best kind with just a chilly breeze in the air and the sun shining it’s brightest. It was a normal day for everyone except me. It was the day when I was going to get my reports back from the hospital which was going to declare my life’s fate or as I thought it would.
I had been feeling this lump in my right breast. It had not been giving me any pain or discomfort but did give me a fear which I had been putting under the carpet for almost 6 months. My sister in law who happens to be a Radiologist was in town those days. I was in a dilemma whether to get it checked or not, but I didn’t know how it all conspired and there I was on 15th February lying in front of her, being examined for something that was going to change my life forever. Her anxious face almost confirmed my worst fear but we went for further tests which confirmed that I was suffering from the dreaded word ‘C’ in stage 2. I was just 42 years old. The world around me took a spin. Nothing made sense anymore. I, a seemingly hale and hearty person, with no habit of smoking or drinking, had cancer. ‘Why me’ was an obvious second thought. I hadn’t wronged any person in my life. But then as the news settled with the sheer support of my family, I felt the most determined I had ever been my entire life. Suddenly, as the clouds shed after a thunderstorm and the sun smiled through them, the dark thoughts in my mind gave way to the smiling faces of my family members, which I wanted to see more and more, flashed my mind. That’s when thought I will fight this deadly disease.
My husband who is in the Paramilitary Force had just been posted to Tripura. A strong willed man and my rock support all these years, he came back to Delhi and had my treatment started in no time. The doctors at the Hospital outlined a mammoth line up of procedures as a part of the treatment. 8 rounds of Chemotherapy were going to be followed by a single breast Mastectomy after which 29 days of radiation would be followed. My first Chemo was slated to be administered on 16th March, which came swiftly. I was really nervous before it as the detrimental consequences of Chemotherapy were known by all. After having it done, I came back not feeling anything at all. But the nausea and the weakness were not late to catch up. Few days later, the side effects of the therapy started to take a toll on my body. But I recovered in time for the next one. The biggest side effect I had to face after this had to be the dreaded hair fall. My hair started falling in locks, more and more as the days after chemotherapy passed. I thought I was prepared for it, but God, I wasn’t. I did not look at the mirror for so many days, till the time I started wearing the scarves. After the first two chemotherapy sessions, I took each successive one with more zeal and confidence. I did have to face the dreadful consequences but I knew I couldn’t give up.
My Surgery was scheduled for 10th August, 2015. My Sister-in law flew in all the way from the UK for the surgery. Scared as I was for it, I did not miss to wish my nephew on his birthday on that very day before going into the OT. Recovery after the surgery was an easy one though I had to face an emotional trauma, as I saw an incomplete physical self. The scar of the surgery was not to be taken as a sign to disease, but my liberation from it and more so my victory over it. Though, my heart sank as they opened my bandages but quickly did a somersault as they told me how successful the surgery had gone. The next day, I was all prepared to go home, to see my children (my daughter was 15 years old and son was 10 years old at that time) who were anxiously waiting to see me as I forbade them from coming to the hospital to see me. Their happy faces at the doorstep of our house made me forget the pain and the drain too that came with me. The treatment was not over though. I had to face the Radiations which turned out to be a cake walk, with the only hassle being going to the hospital for 28 days straight!
19th October 2015, the day of my last radiation was the day of victory with my war with cancer. This day is going to be remembered by me and my family forever. Ah! How happy I was, how liberated I felt. Straight from the hospital, I went to a temple to thank the Almighty for taking care of me in this difficult phase of my life and the new life that was granted to me.
The time of my treatment was no doubt the hardest of my life, but each day brought a new learning, a new reason to be thankful for. I woke up everyday, feeling more mentally rejuvenated than the day before. To this day, I think to myself the worst has happened and is over. Now, I take each day as it comes, counting its blessings and not its problems. This has only been made possible with the continuous love and support of my family who have not left my side for even a day. My bosses and colleagues who extended their utmost cooperation during the troublesome phase and lastly, the Almighty for providing me with the strength to fight this deadly disease. Someone told me once, like it takes nine months of struggle and pain to bring a new life in this world, these nine months of my treatment have given birth to a new perspective and new hope for life. Thus, princess Arti lives happily ever after with the new crop of curly hair on her head and the biyearly reviews with the doctors.