She is a beautiful woman, and even though she is fifty years old, I don't mind calling her a fashionista. Her attires are as perfect and as modern as her thoughts. She had a nice short haircut, and she always had her hair colored. Her sandals vary with her dresses, and all her dresses are well suited for the office. I met her three years back and was astonished by her energy and fluent English. She would keep running in the office all day from here to there, and you would never find her tired or frustrated. She is always smiling and always happy! But as they say, there are ups and downs in everyone's Life. So, this story is about her downfall that she generously told me about, and I started respecting her more than ever.
The only time she was hurt when her head was shaved, even when her wig was not ready. Cancer was taking a toll on her body, and however, she wanted to maintain her routine and live a healthy life, it was getting impossible. At one point in time, she had to accept that she was suffering from a life-threatening disease. Life was not easy for her, and she was equally tricky for Life as she was determined not to give up. She was not dreaming about her glorious future; she was only against an idea of her daughters spending their lives without a mother. This rock-solid woman is Renuka, and this is her story!
Renuka was a working woman, and she had a usual routine of waking up early, cooking for everyone at home, getting ready for office and spending an evening with her family after work. But that Tuesday morning was not the usual one. She was getting late for the office; but she was not getting ready, she was in a serious discussion with her family – her husband, her mother-in-law and her daughters. She had noticed a small muscle lump in her breast. After hearing everyone's opinion about the same, she thought of going to a doctor and get some advice.
When she had a detailed discussion with and a check-up by her family doctor, she was advised to go for Cancer tests. All the tests were done, and while everyone at home was optimistic that Renuka's reports would be negative, the test results turned out to be positive. Renuka was suffering from the third stage of a Breast Cancer. The news was not easy to digest for her family; her daughters cried all day, and her husband felt helpless. The situation created a void in the lives of everyone at home.
Renuka knew that her family was sad, but she was in no position to make them happy even for a moment and then she resolute in fighting back, not for herself but them.
Her mother-in-law, who was almost like Renuka's friend was with her in this unusual fight.
She continued her job and, in parallel, searched for the best doctor to treat her. She met many doctors, spoke with them, and decided to get treatment from Dr. Kulkarni from Pune. She was positive that she would recover from this and will lead a healthy life, but that was not as easy as it seemed to her.
When her test results came out positive, she started reading about the disease on the internet. She wanted to talk with the doctor face-to-face on her reports and one day she went to the hospital by taking the doctor's appointment. But when she saw that the doctor was not in his cabin, she went to the ward of the cancer patients to see a doctor there. As soon as she entered, the other cancer patients thought that Renuka is a doctor, and they greeted her with a smile. She smiled back and noticed that people in the ward were in pain; they were in deep pain. They were not happy; they were not as fit as Renuka was. She could walk and carry herself gracefully. That was a point when she decided to exercise regularly; she was not ready to see herself weak. And she knew that her daughters could not see their mother in this unending pain.
As suggested by Doctor, Renuka got herself operated. Her breast, which was infected with cancerous cells, was removed altogether. The doctor gave her an option of reconstructing the same through some advanced medical procedures, but she did not opt for that. Her mother and her sister came for her help during this time. Both of them didn't care about their families as they knew if anyone needed them most at that time, that was Renuka. They stayed at her place for months and supported Renuka emotionally and mentally; they were of great help at home as well.
Even after surgery, Renuka was concerned whether any of her other body parts are affected. And under her doctor's guidance, she opted for Chemotherapy after her surgery.
Days passed by, and everyone thought that Renuka was on the path of recovery, but there was still time to it.
One day when she was sitting in her office, and she ran her hand through her hair, half of her hair came out in her hand. That was the shock to her. Her colleagues knew about her disease, and they advised her to take a break from her job. Everyone knew that it was a side-effect of Chemotherapy. Renuka went to the doctor straight from the office and asked the doctor to shave her head, even though her wig was not ready. When her daughters saw her without a single hair on her head, they could not control their emotions and this time, her husband, too, cried.
She was a woman of independent thinking and she was not keen on sitting at home, giving the excuse of her disease. But it was her body that wanted some mandatory rest. Renuka took a break from her job, but she did spend time doing exercises and maintaining a healthy diet. People who came to meet her judged her in many ways; some did not like her seating at home when her medicines were expensive, and some wondered how could she recover so soon from the deadly disease.
She went through may phases – a cancer diagnosis, treatment, side-effects of the medications, operation, reaction and judgments of the society, and going back to work. It took her three years to fight cancer and lead a healthy life. All these years, there was a constant support from her younger brother who, otherwise, always acts as her elder brother and takes care of Renuka to every extreme. Her mother, sister and brother were her pillars of strength.
But the difficult part was not the diseases; it was seeing her daughters and her husband going through the pain.
All these years, she stood firm because of the positive support of her mother-in-law, her husband, and her young and matured daughters. It was a fight, and Renuka won it. Today, she is an inspiration for many.
I asked her some more question, and answers are in her own words –
Q- The first thought when you wake up.
A - God bless, I am alive. I wake up and think that I still have a long long way to go!
Q- Your ideal Routine and Real routine?
Daily routine is waking up early morning , enter kitchen to cook meal for all day , rush to office , back home by evening all tired and wishing to retire soon to bed so that you can be up early next morning not really motivating , they keep me on track as in checklist but often are draining and mundane, on the other hand Ideal routine , like early morning walk/an hour of meditation / spend time with family/ hobby / passion provide energy and enjoyment and has very positive effect .
Q-what do like most about your routine
A-I love to wake up early in the morning and start my day on positive thinking to achieve what I desperately want, be it happiness / mental peace to be more patient and disciplined.
Q- What are your thoughts when you go to the office or if you r at home all day?
The first thought is when will I be off work to follow my dreams :-).
While we spend most of the time at work, we get involve and engaged into various tasks and over the years, work seeps into our mind and soon enough even at home we may be physically at home, but mentally at work. Like, while talking with a family member, often, we may be simultaneously on WhatsApp, email etc. completing some task/ resolving some issue/ responding to some email.
Q- Do you think that you can have it all? If yes, why and if no, why? What are the challenges you face to overcome this question in your head, despite knowing the answer?
No, I do not wish to have all, 'All' is different to different people, it is all within ourselves in our way of thinking. We have made rules to live happily and contended, actually very little is needed to make a happy life. There are many challenges such as expectation from family / friends/ society, peer pressures; it is changing norms/ mindset of past and future generations and sustain through all those in order to maintain a balance across.
Q- Why do we work too much?
Again, it's different for every person, maybe we can't stop ourselves, for some its for living, for some it is giving back to society. There can be various reasons, especially for people with good education/exposure.
Q- How do you find yourself different from other women?
Other I do not know, but all women provide the foundation of power, grace, wisdom, justice, creativity, and hope. Besides, women are known to have better intuition, patience, emotional focus, compassion, and networking ability. The list of female strengths is endless. To set myself different is that I do not emulate the wonder women, although I try to imbibe the best from them and admire them utmost for their contribution/achievements. I cannot do everything well all the time and does not beat myself for perceived flaws; neither should any other women need to do that as that only dampens our ability and confidence.
My Story: I'm a survivor It's been five years since I had treatment for breast cancer. I think I've done pretty well, and am proud of myself. The worse is behind me
Looking back, the diagnosis was terrible enough. Not to forget tears filled eyes of my family.
The words "You have cancer" become a dark sea that tows you down; At the surface, you gasp for the stage and grade of it, you gasp for the treatment plan. There is no time to float. And then at some point, the shock fades and the routines of scheduled Chemotherapy, or daily radiation, or surgery recovery and physical therapy coat life in the sense of calm. After two years of the grueling treatment, my eyes refocused, turning back to my family – the landscape of my Life –thought of returning to work, to health, to the Life.
Yes, Life is different after cancer; priorities change.
And the most important thing for me is my immense Faith in God and My doctors. This is not new but became even more crucial when dealing with a life-threatening diagnosis and the challenges of treatment.
My gratitude to my daughters, husband, my mother, my sisters, my bother, the extended family and Friends. When my energy was limited, or I needed to stay out of crowds to prevent exposure to illness, I needed to draw into the coziness of my home and the people I loved the most. I had to judge when to be with my mother because I didn't want to worry her-- yet I needed her mothering comfort.
Another important fact was Keep on Moving. I'd try to at least walk down my road a short distance. Whatever I was physically able to do to get out of bed, out of my house, I did.
"It's about the Future. Don't get too bogged down in your present situation." For me, I took that to look ahead, to anticipate my future just as I would if I hadn't been diagnosed with breast cancer. Focus on those next steps while holding your dream of the future, so you keep moving forward with hope.