Once sufferers, they are now acting as a guiding and motivational force for hundreds of others who are diagnosed with breast cancer at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).
Breast cancer has replaced cervical cancer to become the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in India. To spread awareness about the disease, October is observed as a Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
While celebrating the Pink October, city-based breast cancer survivors have come forward to share their stories of victory over the deadly disease.
“I would not have enjoyed life had I not had cancer. Life has become more beautiful and meaningful,” said Neena Singh, a 70-year-old breast cancer survivor.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 45-year-old. “For once, I thought that it is the end of my life and I will not survive for not more than two-three days. But look at me, it has been more than 25 years now and I am living a healthy life,” she said.
The one incident has transformed her life.
Similar is the story of 68-year-old Ranjana Tulsi, who was diagnosed with breast cancer 16 years ago. “I found change in my breasts, the nipples were turning inward (retraction of nipples). I got suspicious and went for the mammography test. It was cancer.”
She added, “My family attended me so well that I passed that tough phase easily. It was only in 2002, when I attended a survivors’ day programme that I reaslised what all I had gone through.”
When asked, how did the cancer affected her life, she said, “I have become more confident, extrovert and lively person.”
The risk factors of breast cancer is divided broadly into hereditary (5% of all risk factors) and non-hereditary (95%). Other factors are early menarche/late menopause, late first pregnancy and obesity.
As there are chances of transfer of cancer genes from mother to daughter, Tulsi does not miss regular examination of her daughter.
The third cancer survivor is 73-year-old Gurpreet Khaira. It has been more than 15 years now, yet the thought of the day when she was diagnosed with cancer bring tears in her eyes.
“I never expected that a healthy person like me can have cancer. Had my daughter not insisted me for mammography examination, cancer would not have diagnosed on time,” said Khaira.
Talking to HT she said, “The news shook me once, but within no time I made up my mind and decided to fight it back with a positive attitude.”
All these women are leading a healthy life now. The breast cancer transformed their lives but in a positive way and now they are helping others to cope up with the deadly disease with a positive attitude.
“Early detection of breast cancer can save one from the pain of chemotherapy as well. Every woman above 30 years of age should go for mammography once in a year and self breast examination once in a month,” advised Khaira.
All of them are associated with Sahayta Cancer Kendra. Daily, they spend an hour at the Radiotherapy department, PGIMER and counsel cancer patients. Not only they act as role models but also provide financial help to needy patients.
“The sole aim of our lives now is to help and empower other cancer patients,” they said.
A walkathon to raise funds and spreading awareness about breast cancer will take place at the Sukhna Lake at 5pm on Wednesday. The walkathon has been organised by the “Pink Chain of Hope”, with the support of the British deputy high commission, Chandigarh.