National Cancer Awareness Day: I dealt with it with the motto ‘One day at a time’ says Rina Dhaka

“It takes over your life at least for a period of six months, if not more. You learn to live with it.”
Fashion designer Rina Dhaka (Photo: Raajessh Kashyap/HT)
Fashion designer Rina Dhaka (Photo: Raajessh Kashyap/HT)
Updated on Nov 07, 2021 03:24 PM IST
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The adage ‘The sooner, the better’ gains greater importance when the topic of discussion is cancer. On National Cancer Awareness Day, observed on November 7 every year to spread awareness about early detection and prevention of cancer, designer Rina Dhaka recalls how her life was saved by an early diagnosis of breast cancer in 2017.

The designer started noticing changes in her skin texture during July but kept postponing the tests until November, when finally she was forced into getting one. “I kept telling myself – after this fashion week, after that fashion week, because there is so much denial. You always think you won’t have it. And in my case there was no family history of any type of cancer. It was shocking to finally hear the news that I have cancer. I remember coming home in this surreal trance. The disbelief takes over you,” Dhaka says.

The journey towards a cancer free life starts after a series of multiple painful tests and check-ups. “You are literally an animal in the laboratory for at least 30 days after you are diagnosed. These biopsies are very painful. These big fat needles poking and twisting underneath your skin, the pain is unimaginable. Even your stomach shakes in pain,” she recollects.

As a result of the tests, Dhaka was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was decided for her to receive radiation therapy and Lumpectomy. “The doctors advised me that radiation will be helpful for me because we caught it early. I was also given the options of undergoing Mastectomy , but we decided against it,” she says

As someone rightly said ‘Ignorance is bliss,’ the designer immersed herself in her work hoping it’d make it easier to deal with the treatment. “I kept myself busy with work because there is so much pain and anger you are going through. The work kept me distracted so I would stop thinking about my personal problems and that really helps,” she adds.

Although, one also needs to be emotionally strong as cancer is not an illness that can be treated with a surgery, or a set of medicines. It takes over your life at least for a period of six months, if not more. You learn to live with it. Dhaka was underway treatment for months, she says, “I went with the motto that every day you heal, it gets better day by day. My family was very supportive, they were very strong about it. My kids were studying abroad, so we didn’t tell them at the time, they got to know later. Empathy and sympathy from your loved one is there, but it’s also a lot of internal mental work too.”

The designer, who has faith in Buddhism, took help of chanting and Buddhist guidance post treatment. “Chanting ‘You will be hundred percent healthy’ and ‘You will receive the correct diagnosis and treatment’ helped a lot,” she concludes.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2022