Waiting at the Railway station

On a warm sunny afternoon, at one of the suburbs of Melbourne, these passengers were waiting for the train to arrive.

Are they waiting to board or receive someone?


Image may contain: sky, cloud and outdoor

Image may contain: sky, cloud and outdoor






Humbled by the mighty ocean

Standing in front of the vast mighty ocean, you realise how small you are! All you see is water, water and unending water. Where does it end? Where is land?

Two pictures of the Atlantic Ocean as its waves lap on the shores of Liberia in West Africa.





Quality and time

There was an interesting piece in the Business Standard today called The Cancer Column. The heading caught my eye.

The author has beautifully penned her thoughts about her friend Annie who was diagnosed with a malignant inoperable lung tumour which had metastasized to her lymph nodes also. Annie chose not to undergo chemotherapy because of her own reasons. She was allergic to invasive allopathic medicines and she also felt it wrested choice and control from the patient. She chose to opt for naturopathy that would improve her quality of life. Either way there was no cure for her deadly disease. Chemotherapy would have bought her just a little more time, but not much. She was absolutely justified in choosing to say ‘No Chemo’. I am in no way undermining her decision and courage. I salute her.

Chemotherapy by itself is more dreadful than the disease. It ravages your entire system during and after the treatment. It is not a great option for people who do not have much to gain from such treatments either due to the advance stage of the disease or their age.

I lost an aunt to breast cancer because she did not believe in allopathic medicines and preferred to go in for naturopathy and yoga treatments. This was not a great move on her part because the cancer was at an early stage and could have been cured through chemotherapy and surgery. She was afraid of the pain from the therapy, the loss of hair (albeit temporary).

I also know of people who chose to go in for allopathic treatments and find cure. The chemo sessions are just temporary. At the end of it all, there is a bright light beckoning you.

I underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer at the age of 45. It was torturous, I admit. But then I still say it was worth it. Here I am writing this 8 years hence. Chemotherapy ensured I have life aka time. I chose quality of life too.

A few days ago, my mother started bleeding at the age of 80 and a biopsy was performed to rule out malignancy. Luckily, it turned out to be benign. If by any chance, it had turned out to be cancerous, we had decided to just get a surgery done to remove the uterus, but avoid chemotherapy. Reason??? Her age and her physical health… She would not have had the strength to fight the side effects of the medicines and it would in no way have improved her quality of life. We chose the option of ‘no angioplasty’ in February this year due to the same reason.

If chemotherapy is the only option, choose it. Embrace it with a bold smiling front. Take a call after weighing all pros and cons. What is also important is to bring in life style changes. Eat well. Exercise well.

It takes massive courage and clarity to choose quality and time.

#cancer #chemotherapy #treatment #naturopathy #allopathy #quality #businessstandard #interalia #thecancercolumn #mitalisaran #courage #life #time

When the going gets tough….

February 4 is World Cancer Day. Do I want to celebrate on this day? Yes, I do. I celebrate because I fought, survived and am now giving a shout out to all you guys reading this. Today I also celebrate the anniversary of my first blog post.

I was diagnosed in February 2009 with cancer of the breast at the age of 45. I had no symptoms to indicate that I had cancer, just a chance discovery of a lump. What worked in my favour was the early detection and prompt action. I was under the surgeon’s knife within a week of detection for a lumpectomy and followed it up with chemotherapy and radiation.

I always visualised the light at the end of the tunnel when the going got tough during the nine months of my treatment.

People may say life is unfair, but I beg to disagree. Life gives you all indications. If you don’t pay heed, what right do you have to call life unfair?

I have a few friends, educated ones at that who have never gone for a medical checkup for fear of the unknown. If the unknown becomes known, you become empowered to take corrective and remedial actions. You know what you are up against, and if your results are all normal, go out and celebrate.

I never miss my dates with my doctors. After the cancer episode, I am doubly alert to any significant changes in my body. I started working out last year to keep myself physically fit. I eat well and stay aware.

I was unfortunate to have been diagnosed with cancer, but I would also say I was fortunate to have found it early. I was fortunate to have been blessed with a wonderful family and circle of friends who supported me and smiled with me through those 9 months. I was fortunate to have been able to afford the best of treatments. I consider myself blessed.

I dedicate this post to an aunt of mine who underwent a mastectomy yesterday. She delayed going to the doctor for almost 8 months out of fear. She is responding well to the course of treatment and we keep motivating her regularly to keep her in positive and good spirits.

I also would like to salute a friend of mine who underwent a lumpectomy and completed a course of chemotherapy last week. She is due to start her radiation therapy next week.She is a warrior too.

If you are fighting this battle or anybody known to you is fighting, remember to remain cheerful and positive. Do not sympathise, instead empathise and support. Show them some love.

My request to all you guys and gals out there, keep checking for small changes in your body. React quickly, that is the key. Stay positive.

On a lighter note, I recollect a joke a friend shared on WhatsApp. ‘If you don’t have a Valentine on Valentine’s day, it is alright. Not all have aids on World Aids Day.’ So is celebrating World Cancer Day.

Join me in creating an awareness about this disease. Take care of you and yours.


#cancer #medicine #life #treatment #family #friends #WorldCancerDay



Speak Out


Age-Old Questions

No Fair

It’s all in your mind…



I saw this today on Facebook and it reminded me immediately of my mother’s aunt, who I called Mayavaram Patti (Patti means grandmom and she lived in Mayavaram when I was a kid).

Patti was not what you would call a classic beauty. She was dusky, with bright shining eyes, a smile that lighted up her entire face, long hair which was black almost till the end of her life and a confident regal bearing. You had to look at her twice, such was the magnetism. I can still vividly recall how she used to dry her hair combing through with her fingers to disentangle them, sitting on the floor with her legs stretched out in front of her.

There was a certain charm to everything she did including the way she would eat, relishing each morsel. She would appreciate even simple things and make you feel wonderful. My amma  still uses her as an example for a number of instances.

She wore 9 yards saree, draped so beautifully everyday as was the tradition in Tamil Brahmin households. I especially remember a Kanjeevaram saree in saffron (kesari) colour with a maroon border which looked gorgeous on her. When someone asked her during a family wedding how she managed to wear such a bright saree, she replied ‘I wear it because I like it. I am not wearing something to please anybody else. Just because I am not very fair, doesn’t mean I cannot wear dark and bright colours.’ I was sitting near her and at 18 years of age, that statement took a deep rooting in my mind.

I wear all colours… pastel, dark, bright; anything that catches my eye and I think will look good on me. My blouses are different. I wear jewellery to match my clothes. I feel good about it. I decide, not somebody else. I walk with confidence.

It soesn’t matter if you are young or old, male or female.Be yourself. Live for yourself. You don’t need to please the entire world. Walk tall and proud. Remember, YOU are unique.

After all, it’s all in your mind.


Celebrating my life… Part 1

Today is February 4, World Cancer Day…

It was on Feb 23, 2009 that I found a small lump on my right breast. I did not find it when I was doing self-examination but while taking a shower. I met my physician (a South African) in the afternoon who advised me to get a mammogram and other tests done. Easy to say, but when you live in a place like Liberia in West Africa it meant travelling to another continent to get it done and I mean it literally.
It was a Monday and I booked myself on a flight out of Liberia on Wednesday, February 25th. My husband was insistent that I meet the doctor the day I landed in Chennai. So we looked up the Apollo Hospitals Chennai website to fix up an appointment with a surgeon. We didn’t know the doctors from Adam but had to make a choice. We zeroed in on a surgeon Dr Prithviraj whose qualifications and experience caught our eye.
When I met with him on the 27th morning, he advised me to get an ultrasound, a mammogram and FNAC (Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology) done. FNAC is where an aspiration is made with the help of a needle from the affected area and then it is sent for testing.
On Monday when I collected my report at the appointed hour, my heart was beating wildly. The mammogram and the ultrasound reports were not alarming, but the FNAC report was very clear. The one dreaded word was up there… CARCINOMA of the right breast.
For a few seconds I was paralysed and almost in tears. I then realised it wasn’t the end of the world. Cancer is just a disease and not the end of the world. It can be cured. I called my husband who was in Liberia to tell him. He was shattered but he too said ‘it is alright. We will find out what is to be done next.’
I met the surgeon with the reports. He was shocked to see my reports because he couldn’t believe it. He then looked at me and asked me if I had gone through the report and understood what it said. I told him that I had been diagnosed with carcinoma which meant cancer. I still remember his reaction vividly. He walked around the table and came up to me, gave me a tight hug. I was wondering if this was what he did with all his patients… smile emoticon
I remember the conversation like it happened yesterday.
He asked me just one question ‘how is it that you still have the same smile on your face that you had on Friday when you came to meet me with a cheerful good morning doctor?’ And I said ‘I am willing to cry if it will change the report to negative for carcinoma. Instead of crying I would like to know what I need to do now because I am young and I have a long life ahead of me.’
The good doctor after a few minutes suggested I get admitted right away and get myself operated the very next day. I was stunned. I was all alone at the hospital. My husband was in Liberia, my daughter was at the University in Gujarat. My husband when we called him from the doctor’s chamber bluntly asked him if I was dying. The good doctor was at a loss for words. We then asked to the doctor if waiting 4 more days would be life threatening for me. It was decided that I would get myself admitted on Thursday and the surgery would be performed on Friday morning. My husband would land on the midnight of Thursday. All appointments fixed accordingly.
I asked the doctor if the report was correct because I had no symptoms at all (I do read up on stuff and keep myself updated). No fever, no weight loss, no tiredness, no loss of appetite… He explained patiently with a smile that I was very lucky not to have any symptoms because that would mean my cancer had progressed. Lucky me…
Now came the big question… what to tell my 70 year old mom and 72 year old mother in law? They were waiting at home for the reports. It was possible to hoodwink my mother in law, but difficult to do so with my mom. She is going to be a curious cat wanting to look at the report. She knows enough to recognise the CA word though spelt medically .
The doctor advised me to explain gently to them that it was the early stages of cancer and that after surgery and treatment I was going to be fit as a fiddle. Telling a lie wasn’t going to help anybody. I came back home and told my mother with a smile on my face that her daughter was diagnosed with cancer. She is one bold cookie, didn’t breakdown in front of me, no scenes of any kind, took it stoically and accepted it when I told her that I planned on living a very long life. My mother in law was shocked and upset.
The worst reaction was from my darling girl, Nisha. She broke down completely and was inconsolable. But she had a wonderful circle of friends who supported her through this.
I underwent the surgery, I diagnosed with Stage II A CA Breast, followed it up with 6 cycles of chemotherapy and 28 sittings of radiation (all that reserved for posts to follow) and here I am sitting penning my thoughts about my journey after 7 years.
I was diagnosed with Stage 2A CA Breast.
I am really thankful that I found the lump when I did and could get it removed before it started to grow in size.
There was going to be some discomfort during the period of the treatment but I was not too worried about that. I was looking at the rainbow at the end of the cloud. And it was bright. A full life ahead!
I was really lucky I moved so fast and got operated upon so quickly and followed it up with the right treatment.
All you guys and gals out there, keep checking for small changes in your body. React quickly, that is the key. Stay positive.

And like any other award winner, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my dear husband, my daughter, my two moms, my family and all my friends for their love and support through those trying times… smile emoticon(tacky, eh???)

Keep smiling…..



Speak Out


Age-Old Questions

No Fair