I have something to confess. When asked to narrate my fight against cervical cancer, it felt like a distant memory. Why not? It has been 5 years since I was declared cancer free, and I am one of those luckiest women to swing back to normalcy within a year and a half. 

And it was not easy, never! I am turning 45 this year, and it was around my 40th birthday my body sent me some unusual symptoms. For someone like me who is ‘qualified enough’ as per societal standards, helming an entire department in a corporate conglomerate, an irregular menstrual cycle felt like a regular occurrence, and I conveniently blamed it on stress. How sad! Leading a pressure-loaded life has become a new standard, and none of us are complaining. We will leave this stress to talk to another day, but let me tell you something about my cancer struggle and how I successfully combated it!
Cervical cancer story

There is one thing that is common with all of us regarding cancer. We believe that it can never happen to us! But unfortunately, these days and times, we often come across people diagnosed with this deadly health condition that can affect every organ and each cell in the body at any time and age. Yet, many of us love to believe that we are “untouchable” by malignant cells. 

I was one among them till a few years back. The first and foremost sign was an irregular menstrual cycle, spotting between each period. Then, the symptoms slowly progressed into vaginal itching, dull, throbbing pain in the abdominal region, and continuous bloating. After that, my visits to the washroom increased more than before; I found the vaginal area getting super dry and itchy, and intercourse was painful.  

But the wake-up call came on a morning from severe fatigue, which forced me to stay in bed for one whole day. That’s when I finally knocked at my doctor’s door, and the tests followed. 

Pap smear, biopsy, MRI, PET-CT, and blood work revealed the same diagnosis. The presence of cancer cells in the cervix is a squamous cell carcinoma. Fortunately, the cancer is about 5 mm and has not spread to the body's lymph nodes or other organs. My oncologist and surgical oncologist were extremely helpful. 

The first piece of advice was to stay strong and be positive. I did. Within a week, I was wheeled into the operation theatre for a trachelectomy – removal of the cervix to curtail the growth of cancer cells. I got discharged within 4 days, and I recuperated at home surrounded by family and friends. But the fight was far from over. 

My schedule for Chemotherapy and Radiation started after 3 weeks. I was administered low doses of chemotherapy and radiation therapy in 5 different cycles, which significantly impacted my physical, mental, and emotional well-being. I turned bald in no time, and fatigue, nausea, and depression never disappeared. 

I also had one question, but I was hesitant and scared to ask my doctors. “Am I going to die?” I never asked it, though. 

As the treatment progressed, my outlook on life changed. 

I took each day as it came. I promised to stay positive, eat healthily, read good books, and add a long to-do thing to my bucket list. I joined support groups, voiced my fears, revealed the dilemmas, and sought help. As a result, I never felt helpless, lost hope, or doubted myself. 

Even as I faced an emotional rollercoaster ride, my chemo and radiation sessions made me realize the struggle of other cancer patients. This deadly health condition doesn’t differentiate between age and gender. All cancer patients fight the same battle, some win, and some lose. There are many reasons why one can get affected by cancer. Genetic or otherwise, if it ought to happen, it will happen. 

I am cancer free today, but I take my health more seriously and life more easily. I have become a far more empathetic person, understanding the fears and struggles of others at a deeper level. May

I share some tips to prevent and fight cancer? 

  • Do not ignore the signals sent by your body. Early diagnosis is critical to defeating cancer.
  • Do not lose heart, and stay strong through the entire treatment process. Remember to stay positive.
  • Do not hesitate to ask questions to your doctor. Ask for guidance, help, and support.
  • Eat healthy, do not miss medication, and do not skip treatment sessions
  • Get vaccinated against cervical cancer. 
  • Keep up with your doctor’s appointments and take medication on time.

Lastly, spread positivity into the lives of fellow cancer patients and survivors. Join a support group and do your bit. 

This is the story of Supriya M (name changed), a cervical cancer survivor from Bengaluru. A senior HR professional, she urges everyone to keep their health and well-being first and love themselves. 

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