Raising awareness on World Cancer Day, veteran actor, Nafisa Ali takes us through her journey of fighting peritoneal cancer and has a crucial message for women and doctors across the world regarding the diagnosis and treatment of the deadly disease.
What changes did you see in your body?
Initially, I experienced pain in my stomach and continuous burping. Doctors did an ultrasound and a CT scan, but couldn’t figure out the actual cause. After the pain persisted for more than a few months, I again went for an ultrasound. It was then that they discovered fluid in my abdomen, which meant either tuberculosis or cancer. Later, it was found that I am suffering from peritoneal cancer.
How did you come to terms with the diagnosis?
To be honest, I felt relieved after discovering what exactly is happening to me. So many months of quandary had finally been put to rest.
How has the disease affected your family?
My family was really shocked after discovering that I am suffering from such as fatal disease – peritoneal cancer. However, they are supporting me through everything. They do everything they can to support me.
What is the line of treatment?
We all think that chemotherapy is a frightening thing, but it’s really not. The way my doctors have treated me, it has been a comfortable journey, not traumatic as I thought it would be. But I did feel really weak for the first five days, which was followed by three weeks of recovery time.
By the time you recover from that, the second chemotherapy hits you, which is one of the most difficult parts. You have to be really strong during this time. The main battle begins after the chemotherapy is done - the surgery, success of which
How has cancer affected your lifestyle?
With chemotherapy, the immunity and the haemoglobin count becomes low so I have to avoid all things raw, including salads and junk food. I also keep a check on my sugar intake.
What do you think the doctors could have done better?
I think that the doctors must tell their patients about the numerous tests available to detect cancer, especially when the tests available are so inexpensive. I regret not getting a CA 125 test done beforehand. Today, cancer markers are available for every part of the body. In my case, it was my persistent effort that led to the diagnosis.
What is giving you strength?
The belief that cancer is not going to win this battle, I will - for me and for my family. I also don’t let the feeling that I am suffering from a disease sink in and overpower me.