(October is observed as the breast cancer awareness month. FIT will be bringing you a story every day - from stories of survivors, to latest in medical technology, to treatment options, to food and alternative medicine.)
Surviving cancer is a conversation between a breast cancer survivor and their doctor. In today’s episode we chat with Dr Mohit Agrawal, an oncologist at New Delhi’s Fortis Hospital, and Roma Singh, a 33-year-old government school teacher and mother to a five-year-old daughter.
Editor: Deepthi Ramdas
Roma Singh is a government school teacher at a school a couple of kms away from Lucknow. She travels to and from it everyday along with a group of other teachers. At home, Roma has a five year old daughter and has been married for the last six years. Roma was first detected with breast cancer in 2017.
The small pea-sized lump which was found in her body was soon removed, but a couple of months later the cancer made a recurrence. She now laughs about it as she says that the first time her doctor, Dr Mohit Agrawal of Fortis, Shalimar Bagh, recommended chemotherapy, her first reaction was to reject it downright.
“Chemo is such a scary word for someone who doesn’t know about it”, says Roma. Dr Agrawal pitches in and says that it might sound scary, but it’s important to understand that chemotherapy does not mean one thing. It’s a combination of different kinds of drugs. Any medicine that fights bacteria is called an antibiotic, but there are several kinds of antibiotics, same is true for chemotherapy.
It was only after the recurrence of the disease that Roma was finally convinced to undergo chemo.
Lack of Knowledge and the Importance of Early Detection
Roma says that one of the biggest challenges of coming to terms with cancer was disclosing the news to her family. She adds that because of the lack of knowledge and the stigma around cancer, just the name of the disease is enough to leave someone feeling extremely dismal. Thus, it was important for Roma to assure her family that she will undergo the whole treatment and come back fully recovered.
Another important aspect of cancer is early detection. In Roma’s case this happened just at the right time and hence she was able to get timely treatment and recover fully.
Dr Agrawal insists that early detection can make all the difference. Often people sit on lumps or deformations in the body for years and let the cancer grow, he adds. By the time they seek treatment, their case is very complicated. Therefore regular checkups and equipping yourself with the correct knowledge is of utmost importance, he concludes.
Losing Hair and Doubts About Beauty
“My biggest support system has been my husband”, shares Roma with a smile. When her chemo started and she began losing hair, he never made her feel she was any less, she says.
Dr Agrawal chimes in and adds that he always assured her that losing hair is only temporary and she will get past it and sit before him in the green of her health.
Looking at Roma during the recording of this podcast just went ahead to show how prophetic Dr Agrawal’s words were.
Tune into the podcast for the entire conversation with Roma and Dr Agrawal.