From Being a Breast Cancer Patient to a Cancer Conqueror– My Journey of Determination

April 19, 2017

I was born in an Assamese family in Assam. My father, an engineer by profession, had a transferable job and was posted at different places. My mother, a teacher by profession had to quit her job, because of the transfers. I have two married elder sisters. Along with being a law graduate, I also have a Bachelor’s Degree in Music and Arts. Initially, after working as a TV news reader and then moving to the US in 2005, I came back to India in 2008 and began working for Kingfisher Airlines.

The first knock

I had always been a very energetic person enjoying multiple things to juggle.

It was 2014, when I didn’t feel my usual self anymore! I got tired very frequently. One day I felt a small lump in my breast and that led me to visit the doctor. On diagnosis, it was found that I had Breast Cancer, stage 2A. My consulting doctor was a family friend, and I was mentally prepared by him with immense strength to deal with whatever the reports would say! Therefore, when the reports arrived, I was not shocked. I had built the strength in me not to drop a single tear and was determined to be happy throughout. That very day, I came back home and cooked one my choicest meals of paratha and paneer makhni for dinner. It was tough, but not impossible either! I believe I dealt well with the sense of denial that usually occurs on cancer diagnosis. I feel proud of myself for that!

My Cushion of Support

Except my sisters and in-laws, not many people knew about my condition initially. My mom was informed during my chemotherapy sessions. Since my dad is a heart patient he has not been informed till date. I am sure you will agree, for parents, especially if they are ailing themselves, accepting the fact that their loving child is about to go through a difficult cancer experience is indeed tough to digest. After all, more than the disease, its treatment is atrocious. For people who got to know later about my diagnosis, it was tough to believe!

During this entire phase, my husband was my biggest support. I owe my life to him, for if it was not him, I would not have been here telling my story today.

Thankfully, I was insured during the diagnosis. The cost of cancer treatment can me immensely draining, as we all know!

I craved for normalcy

After being diagnosed with cancer, days and nights were never the same.

During this ordeal, I never forgot one fact that nothing is permanent, not even the troubles!

I craved for going on a vacation and starting my work again. I mostly thought about my hair growing back which had to be shaved off during the chemotherapy sessions. But, I felt I was determined – more determined, and realised that this phase when over, will only make me stronger.

The doctor who made all the difference

A doctor’s nurturing care plays a pivotal role in curing a patient. I was blessed to be treated by Dr Anthony Pais, Clinical Director and Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon of Cytecare Cancer Hospital, Bangalore. He is a God-like figure to me, and now I work along with him! The doctors at the hospital were very warm and were always understanding irrespective of time and space. It was with the help of Dr Pais that throughout my treatment, I had the courage to give cancer a tough fight and of course, win in the end!

I had two surgeries – One for chemo port installation, and then next for port removal operation followed by 16 chemotherapy sessions. Those days will remain cherished memories forever in the diary of my life. Even today, I draw strength from that phase of my life.

A confident and fearless Mili during her chemotherapy hospitalisation

My life post treatment

Fortunately, I completed my treatment on time. The only hiccup that I experienced was that my chemo port once got infected. But, I tackled that too with all my might!

Immediately after my treatment, that lasted for 8 months, I de-stressed myself by starting yoga.

I planned a vacation right after treatment where only I and my husband could spend some great time together devoid of medicines and injections of course!

And soon, I was cancer free!

Life-changing experience

In my journey towards complete healing, I changed as a person. I am far stronger mentally, physically and emotionally.

I learnt how positive attitude can change the worst to best. I learnt how a smile can change the world. I learnt how my mind can control my body.

As a survivor, I personally think a combination of things worked for me. Medicine therapy, spirituality and prayers really helped me win this battle against cancer.

After my recovery, I dedicated myself completely to cancer awareness. This was mainly because I have experienced the emotional and physical pain of battling a dreadful enemy that is cancer. Hence, I understand the feelings and emotions of those battling this monster.

At Cytecare Hospital, I inspire, motivate and guide cancer patients throughout their treatment. We also go to schools and colleges to spread cancer awareness. We also organise cancer awareness walkathons.

As a yoga instructor, I live in the present and advice people to do the same! I believe, we worry with thoughts from either past or future, therefore the best way for everything to fall in place is to live in the present and make it better. We cannot control some things in life, so it is better to leave these things to God rather than getting worried.

Before I end, I would suggest you always be very positive in your outlook, trust and listen to your body and your doctor as well! Always listen to people who have clinical knowledge about cancer, instead of those who are unaware of the facts related to this disease and de-motivate patients to make it worse.