Survivors say positivity goes a long way in beating cancer

Many in Bengaluru have heart-warming recovery stories to share

Ashwini with her parents Prema and Mahadeva.

Lakshmi Ambarish, aspiring model and cancer survivor, begins our conversation with, ‘The fact that I am still here is a miracle.’

Like her, many with cancer have defied all odds to get back on their feet; they provide inspiration to those diagnosed with cancer. Here are three Bengaluru stories:

Lakshmi Ambarish

Lakshmi was 22 when Hodgkins lymphoma interrupted her life. She was already in Stage 2. Her dreams of entering the fashion industry came crashing down. A small, painless lump on the left, between her neck and shoulders, was initially treated as an infection.

When the lump started growing and becoming more painful, the doctor advised a needle test. “We then headed to an ENT specialist who suspected it was more than a mere infection. He suggested a biopsy,” she recalls. It was when Lakshmi was referred to Dr Hari Menon, senior consultant at a Cytecare Hospital in Yelahanka in February 2017, that she was treated for cancer.

She lost her beautiful long hair but stayed strong. “I was back to my normal life within a few months. Modelling is a passion I enjoy and I still look forward to it,” she says. 

The break helped her think about her life and goals more seriously. “I plan to become a stylist and join fashion school in the UK or US,” she says.

Her learning

Don’t lose hope. Most cancers are treatable.

Being well informed helps you feel in control.

Try and find someone to share your inner feelings.

It’s not easy to talk but it’s worth the effort.

Try meditation, feel positive, pursue your passion. 

Ashwini M

A check-up at Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology led to Ashwini’s blood cancer diagnosis in 2014. She was then a student of Class 8 and continued going to school even after her diagnosis. She underwent chemotherapy for four months but the cancer persisted. She then discontinued school. Her parents, both flower vendors, didn’t have money for bone marrow transplant. Her chemo had already set them back by about Rs 15 lakh.

“Though my parents were stressed, they never allowed me to be worried. My mother was supportive and kept me motivated throughout. She told me I would be cured,” Ashwini says.

Her interest in arts and crafts helped her through her treatment days and kept her busy. Ashwini’s parents Prema and Mahadeva had to make tough choices but that didn’t break their strength.

Social worker Shobha then connected them with Milaap, a website that helped the family raise funds for the treatment. “Once my funds were collected, I was given additional chemo and spent a month in Narayana Hrudayalaya for blood transfusion,” she says.

Ashwini kept herself physically active and happy, which helped her get better faster. She has not resumed school yet but is ready to get back next year.

Her learning

Stay positive. It builds inner strength.

Dr Satyabhama Krishnan*

A gynecologist, Satyabhama was diagnosed with breast cancer three-and-half years ago. She underwent a traumatic experience when it spread to her spine and led to a spinal cord compression.

She recalls not being able to walk because of weakness and her lower body almost being paralysed. “I started taking radiation and I must say the recovery has been good. Within three to four months of physiotherapy, I was also able to stand on my own. Mental strength is important, and being a doctor helped me in many respects,” she says.

She was bedridden and on a urinary catheter till a year ago she took help and care from Suvitas, which provides oncology rehabilitation. She says, “Thinking of the illness is pointless. Rather than helping, it brings down one’s immunity. The body has a lot of capacity to heal.”

Satyabhama is an avid reader and made books her best friend when she was bedridden. “I took these months as a holiday to read up my favourite books.”

Her learning:

Our thoughts do affect our body.
Value people.
Live one day at a time. 
Don’t waste time in self-pity.

(*Name changed on request).

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Survivors say positivity goes a long way in beating cancer

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