A Fight For Life—The Story of Surviving Cancer
World Rose Day is celebrated on 22nd September in the memory of Melinda Rose, a 12-year-old girl who was diagnosed with Askin’s Tumour, a rare blood cancer. Despite having only six months left to live, she touched the lives of many cancer patients and filled their lives with happiness.
In celebration of the same, we were fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of two such valiant women who defeated the emperor of all maladies, Jayshree Arora–a retired teacher, and Shreya Srikrishna–a second-year student at MIT. They shared their experiences as to how they braved the odds in their battle against this dreadful disease and taught us to live each day to the fullest.
My name is Jayshree Arora. I had been a Science and Mathematics teacher since 1986 and retired after enjoying 30 years of service. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April of 2011, while still teaching. When I got to know about it, I was shocked as I couldn’t understand how it had happened to me. It all started when I was correcting board papers, and I noticed a knot near my armpit. My board duty got over at 1:30 pm, and I immediately called my husband and told him that I wanted to get it checked by the doctor. We went to Dr Kamra for the checkup. Dr Mahavir, who was visiting at Dr Kamra’s clinic, directed me to Dr Ahuja of the Pathology Lab for further examination. Dr Ahuja told me to get the Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology (FNAC) test for cancer, the result of which came back positive.
I informed my colleagues in school, and they were very sad to hear this unfortunate news. However, I resolved not to give up. I was advised to immediately get treatment to completely remove it from the roots. They told me to trust the doctor and the process thoroughly and to keep an open mind. There were two types of treatment available—conservative and removal treatment. I opted for the removal treatment, and the chemotherapy started in April. I was fortunate enough to get excellent treatment from people like Dr Hemant and Dr Kanchan, who also motivated us to stay positive and divert our attention from ruminating about it. I changed my mindset towards it and decided to never stop fighting. I wanted to prove a point to the world by overcoming the disease and to continue with my profession until 2016, no matter what. Such thoughts motivated me through the darkest of times during my treatment and taught me how to be grateful for all that I have.
What are some things you look forward to doing, now that you have recovered?
I wish to open a small school along with my daughter and daughter-in-law so as to keep me busy after retirement. I also want to start tuition classes for 9th and 10th-grade students to help them understand concepts better. If there are students who cannot afford the tuition fee, I will teach them for free. I wish to continue teaching to anyone who wants to learn.
What were some misconceptions about cancer that you faced?
Many people wrongly assume that this disease is temporary and will go away in some time. One should avoid getting absorbed by the rumours spread and must focus on their self. People may tell you discouraging tales about how someone succumbed to the disease in two years, the kind of talk that you must ignore. If your willpower is strong and you have a desire to live, then it will all work out in the end. Maintain a routine and take special care of your diet. Don’t forget to go out once in a while. God has given us the gift of life so enjoy it to the fullest. Celebrate your children’s birthdays and anniversaries, and other important milestones to remain upbeat.
I am Shreya Srikrishna, a second-year student at MIT currently pursuing computer science engineering. I was diagnosed with cancer in May 2019 and finished my treatment on 30th December 2019.
As someone who has gone through this life-changing experience, what would you advise us students who are still relatively inexperienced and young?
Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I went through it all, and that is what leads me to believe that we can never really know how strong we are. Adversity brings out a side in you even if you don’t realise it, and I think that’s my biggest takeaway. It might seem a little abstract, but now I know that whatever comes my way, I will be able to deal with it even if I am not prepared. This is what I want more people to internalise as well. Life will not always go as per your plans, but trust me, you will grow with every one of those curveballs thrown. You will learn, and you will still figure it out. Also, at the risk of sounding like my mother, I plead that you don’t ignore your health. Listen to your body when it tells you there is something wrong. I know that we are young and we feel like we are invincible, but we all need to respect our bodies and take care of our health because, in the end, it is all that we have got.
These individuals had their lives turned upside down due to a disease from within, but they persevered against the odds and emerged as true champions in life. With their experiences, they hope to inspire people to take their challenges head-on and help them value the time and opportunity that they’ve been given.
[Featured Image Credits: Pinterest]