founders of the ‘let’s kick cancer’s ass’ clubhouse on the leap.club network, these women have had challenging journeys with breast cancer. here are their stories:
“i ran a pinkathon in 2015 — a breast cancer awareness marathon — and took home a bunch of material to read. i thought it would help to be aware since i knew so many women over 40!
two years later, i felt a lump while showering.
no one seemed to think it was a big deal at the time, myself included. my doctor suspected it to be a period-related fibroid, but she called me back just as i was walking out of my consult. she said that while it shouldn’t be a concern at my age, we should go ahead and get a sonography anyways. that moment is so defining for me, and it’s why i talk about breast cancer every chance i get. if i wasn’t aware of the possibilities, and if my doctor didn’t call me back to recommend a sonography, i don’t know what stage i’d end up getting diagnosed at, or if i’d be able to tell my story today.
the perception is that people get breast cancer only in their 40s, but that’s a myth. i was already at stage 2 when i got diagnosed, and just under 26 years old.
i had an aggressive form of cancer, what’s known as grade 3. i was fine till my surgery; showered with love from friends, family and colleagues, and thought the end was in sight. but shortly after the lump was removed, we found that the cancer was aggressive and that i’d need chemo. that’s when i broke down and started questioning everything. i fought it — i’d just gotten my first promotion, and didn’t want to lose my career (or my hair!) through chemo. but i realised it was the best thing to do. i had 20 cycles of chemo and radiation, and i’ve since been on 5 years of hormonal therapy.
through this i’ve learnt the incredible value of respecting and making time for your body. you have to be vigilant — without a healthy body you don’t have a healthy mind, and without a healthy body and mind, you’re nothing. everything else fades when you’re in a hospital bed, and it all comes down to your healthy mind and body.
i also realised the value of my inner circle — my journey made me want to invest in them and make time for them even more, because they’re the ones who actually showed up through all of it!”
“before the cancer hit, i was on top of my game on both the work and wellness fronts alike. but cancer was a slap in the face that i didn’t expect at all. i had no signs, symptoms or family history, so none of us saw this coming.
i accidentally discovered a lump, and my family doctor didn’t think it would be cancerous at the time. as days passed, with every subsequent test, it became clearer — the prognosis showed that it could lead to breast cancer. i had no time to absorb it, grieve, or think of “why me” — so i said, “try me”!
we progressed with the treatment and it was extremely difficult. i was forced to take life one day at a time. my doctor warned me that my hair would start to fall, and after my second chemo, i started to see it happen. i hated it and it made me paranoid for a while; i felt like i’d leave clumps of hair everywhere i’d sit or lie down. finally, i mustered the courage to cut it off completely. “my hair’s going to leave me anyway”, i thought; “might as well try some spunky hairdos”!
i found megha via leap.club and connected with her; she shared some insights from her journey and encouraged me — she emphasised that i could do this, and she saw the strength and conviction deep inside me. i believed it. i thought about all that i wanted to do and achieve in my life, how i wanted to travel the world and my huge to-do list. i had to get better to achieve it all.
i’m not going to underplay how difficult that time was — i lost my grandfather just before my surgery too and spent days in the hospital. dealing with all of it was traumatic, and there was post-surgery care as well. hundreds of precautions and measures to take, the physical pain to deal with, the checkups and treatments. the whole ordeal lasted 10 months.
through all of it, i’ve learnt how to be healthily detached, and how to really take life one day at a time. it’s great to have a to-do list with experiences to look forward to, but you can’t fully anticipate what life might throw at you. don’t be too stuck to your plans and don’t be hard on yourself.
i’m at a good place now where i can joke about it too — i like to say i have ‘killer boobs’!”