The priority of a patient and her oncologist remains complete cure, but with breast cancer, another threat sets in .i.e., loss of a breast. Read excerpts from a telephonic interview with Mrs. Juhi Singhal our breast cancer hero, who is a homemaker and a mother of two.
Onlymyhealth Team: How did you find out that you have breast cancer? Did you go for your annual breast cancer screening?
Mrs. Juhi Singhal: Actually I was already aware about the symptoms of breast cancer as one of my close friends was diagnosed with last stage of breast cancer. After I hit 40, I used to regularly check my breasts after my periods for any lump. In 2003, I had suspected a lump in my left breast. I immediately told my family about it and since then I was going for regular checkups for cancer. I underwent mammography, SNAC, CDC, chest X-ray, ultrasound of the abdomen and a series of hormonal tests.Unfortunately (and fortunately enough) i was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.
Onlymyhealth Team: Do you have a family history of breast cancer?
Mrs. Juhi Singhal: No, I am the only member in my family diagnosed with any form of cancer.
Onlymyhealth Team: What were your and your family’s initial thoughts after the diagnosis?
Mrs. Juhi Singhal: As I said earlier, I was already aware of breast cancer incidence in Indian women so it wasn’t shocking for me. Neither I nor my family were devastated. I was adamant on being strong throughout my treatment and made sure that my children remained unaffected. I just couldn’t associate breast cancer with death because I knew that it was beatable. A few years back I had read about a Delhi University lecturer, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and was not only paralysed but also had no one to support her. She survived it in spite of being alone, so I often wondered if I still have a loving and caring family to look after me, why must I be dejected?.
Onlymyhealth Team: Which treatment did you undergo? Were there any side-effects?
Mrs. Juhi Singhal: I underwent breast cancer surgery followed by six cycles of chemotherapy. My surgery was done at Sushila Jaswant Rai Hospital, Meerut. Then, I was under the chemotherapy treatment given by Dr. Umang Mittal, M.S., Oncologist Surgeon, practicing in Meerut. During the surgery, my affected breast was removed, but the surgery wasn’t painful and it took a little time to heal. After this, I went through six cycles of chemotherapy over a period of 21 days. Within the first eight days of chemotherapy, my hair started to fall and I had to get rid of them completely.
Chemotherapy cycles were physically taxing. I didn’t feel like eating or even engaging in any for of physical activity. Muscle cramps in the back and abdomen kept on troubling me during the chemotherapy cycles. After chemotherapy, however I stopped menstruating. Nausea, vomiting, constipation and loose motions were some other side-effects.
Onlymyhealth Team: How has breast cancer affected your lifestyle?
Mrs. Juhi Singhal: Well, it hasn’t affected me much psychologically, but yes, it has left me slightly weak physically. Now, I am not as energetic as I used to be before my cancer days. My stamina has decreased so I find it hard to do additional work along with my routine activities. I am not allowed to lift heavy weight and long hours of travelling are usually tiring for me. I have to be very particular about my diet. I can only eat fresh food and my doctor has advised rich-protein diet. If I am going out or travelling, I always make sure that I have fruits and nuts with me so I don’t end up eating street food. Quality of the food I eat is my priority.
Onlymyhealth Team: Are you still on medications after your breast cancer treatment?
Mrs. Juhi Singhal: Yes, I am still on drugs. Once in a day, I have to take a life-saving hormonal drug, calcium and multivitamin supplement.
Onlymyhealth Team: How has surviving breast cancer changed your life?
Mrs. Juhi Singhal: Fortunately, I have been blessed with a supporting family. Faith in my doctor made me even stronger. Now things are perfectly normal and my life is back on track. Both my kids are relieved and are doing academically well. Fighting the breast cancer battle has helped me discover a new side of my personality. I used to be reserved and shy, but this experience has taught me to break away from my inhibitions.
Onlymyhealth Team: Are you working towards breast cancer awareness? If you are, then what are your goals and how do you go about it?
Mrs. Juhi Singhal: I am not associated with any breast cancer support group, but I try to reach out to every breast cancer patient among my relatives or friends. There are numerous facts about breast cancer and its treatment that a doctor may fail to tell to the patient, but a breast cancer survivor can talk about those facts to help the patient in a better way. So I try to locate breast cancer patients and I speak to them personally on phone and guide them to stay strong in their ordeal against breast cancer.
We salute the spirit of Mrs. Juhi Singhal, who remained strong and unbreakable in her battle against breast cancer and wish that she becomes an inspiration for all those who fear losing their lives to cancer.
Read more articles on Breast Cancer.