Cancer: A positive story

      A Real Life story of a lady battling cancer and coming out on top. Am placing extracts. Ed

My never-say-die attitude helped me fight cancer  

     Mamta Sinha, the managing director of Atari Informatics—a computer IT firm—juggles professional life and cancer treatment with amazing grace.

She tells MADHUMITA GUPTA how she lives her life to the fullest after surviving breast cancer, while her oncologist explains the procedure

      ‘Believe me my life hasn’t changed at all. I go about my chemotherapy sessions and routine check-ups in addition to a full time office schedule. These trips for medication are something that can’t stop me from living life on my own terms. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in an advanced stage, five years ago. The discovery was accidental.

‘     I was 37-years-old when I suddenly felt this abnormal boil under my arm. Slightly alarmed I consulted my family doctor who advised me to see an oncologist without delay.
     A battery of tests, including a mammogram and FNAC (Fine Needle test) confirmed the presence of a malignant tumour and within a few days I was operated upon at Apollo Hospital by senior oncologist Dr Samir Kaul. I was told I was going to have my right breast removed(mastectomy). The decision was quick and practical as at that time it was a matter of life versus breast.’

     Despite the fact I’d been diagnosed with the dreaded big ‘C’, there was never any depression at any point of time. I knew I was in good hands and besides there was always the reassurance that breast cancer is completely treatable. Even the inevitable side-effect of prolonged chemotherapy – complete loss of hair, couldn’t dampen my natural optimism. I was assured that it was a temporary phase and sure enough, the hair grew back and as you can see, I sport a chic bob-cut today! And no, it is not a wig!’

     The next few years passed peacefully but then a routine check-up revealed that the cancer had resurfaced, this time in my liver. It was a complete surprise to me as well as my doctors, as there were absolutely no visible symptoms. Another biopsy revealed a change in the nature of the cancer cells and once again a rigorous treatment followed which included ‘targeted chemotherapy’.

     ‘Technology also helps me go about my business with this tiny device, a ‘chemoport’, inserted in my body through which the medication is given allowing me to have my weekly chemotherapy sessions minus the painful injections each time. The device is so tiny that once you’re used to it, it’s easy to forget that it’s even there! In fact, very recently I motivated another fellow patient to use it—it’s so much better than going through the injections each time.

     All the medication has taken its toll of course, and my immunity has reduced considerably. I’ve to be very wary of catching infections. Also post-treatment, I need to be alert about my checkups. Apart from that I have to have a healthy, protein rich diet. With these little precautions, I manage tolive my life as fully as possible. Sure,
the adjustment to living without a breast took a while, but it doesn’t bother me now.
Luckily, my finances were completely covered by my company which enabled me to afford this expensive treatment.

     Cancer has taught me to treasure every little thing about life, whether it is spending time with my nieces and nephews, enjoying a good movie or savouring a beautiful sunrise. I’ve learn’t to take the niggling little problems in my stride and always look at the bigger picture.’

     And the secret behind my almost-miraculous recovery, I feel, is the whole-hearted support of my doctors, family, friends and, I guess, my own will-power and never-say-die attitude!
Dr Samir Kaul, Senior Consulting Oncologist, Apollo Hospital, has been treating Mamta right from the beginning. He says:Mamta is an unusual patient, infact she’s the ideal patient. She exudes positive attitude in a way that we frequently use her as role-model or a coach for the patients who are not as courageous as her.

     Mamta’s own will power has also been instrumental in her recovery, as the mind can certainly influence the body. Hereditary causes of cancer can’t be changed but changes in our lifestyle can be instrumental for preventing cancer. We can certainly ensure taking regular balanced meals and avoid obesity at any cost.

     Regular check ups, including a mammogram and pap-smear tests for women in their mid 30s, is a must for early detection of any malignant growth, specially so if there has been cancer in previous generations. I would like to warn women about the long term use of oral contraceptives or hormone replacement medication without medical supervision.
      I’m optimistic because cancer is completely treatable provided it is detected in time.

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