Camera: Nitin Chopra
Assisted by: Sumit Badola
Editor: Prashant Chauhan
Sound: Puneet Bhatia
In November 2018, veteran actor, former beauty queen and national level swimming champion, among other things, announced to her Instagram followers that she has been diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer. Over time, as news reports emerged, it was concluded that it was peritoneal cancer, a cancer of the lining of the abdomen. The cells it affects are also found in the ovaries, often extending the cancer to that area of the body as well. This is also what happened in Nafisa’s case.
When we caught up with her and her doctor Dr Pramod Kumar Julka
Senior Director, Max Oncology Daycare Centre, she had lots to share about her journey so far.
What is Battling Cancer Really Like?
Nafisa says that she still refuses to believe she has cancer. Yes, it’s a scary prospective, there is the fear of the unknown, yet it’s something that has to be dealt with aggressively, she adds with a smile. For months, when she complained of pain and visited doctors, no one could really detect the cancer.
Dr Julka attributes this to the fact that peritoneal cancer is not a common one. While it has ovarian remnants, because of which it was initially confused with ovarian cancer when the first news reports about Nafisa’s diagnosis started pouring in, it is still less common than that of the ovaries. It’s more prevalent in women.
How Does Nafisa Approach Pain?
"I can tolerate a lot of pain... I’m not a complainer, ever”, Nafisa accepts with a smile. However, she was quite apprehensive about the chemotherapy, she adds.
The chemo that Dr Jhulka has given me has not affected me, other than the first five days (which) make me want to not get out of bed. After that my resolve makes me up, up, up, up and I get better and better.Nafisa Ali
Cancer Awareness is the Key
Both Nafisa and Dr Julka cannot insist enough on the importance of awareness for both patients and health practitioners when it comes to cancer. Nafisa shares that a good two months were wasted even with the final round of tests while they were trying to figure out what was wrong with her body. These two months could have been used for the treatment, she adds with a rueful smile.
If we have to fight cancer, while there is no certain way to avoid it, these are some markers that can come in handy. Get regular check-ups, maintain an active lifestyle and eat a clean diet, advises Dr Julka.