If there’s one word that sends shivers down the spine, it is cancer — one of the most common lifestyle ailments. Although it is easy to spiral into a state of anxiety and depression, there are some who choose to fight it out and become an inspiration for others. Such is the story of Radhika Iyer Talati, an entrepreneur, yogini and mountaineer, who has battled cancer twice, only to emerge stronger than ever.
Instead of going through the rigmarole of radiation and other invasive procedures, Radhika decided to cure her illness in a natural way. During the course of this treatment, she also spent time close to nature, in the heart of Himalayas, and fell in love with mountaineering. Her three children — Goutami, Lavanya and Vedant have accompanied her for several expeditions, and have been her biggest pillars of support.
In an exclusive conversation with Health Shots, Radhika shares all about her tryst with cancer and how it transformed her life, as well as her inclination towards mountaineering.
It was at an early age that Radhika was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Since it was her first brush with cancer, it really “scared” her.
Unfortunately, Radhika was unwell ever since she got married. From a spate of allergies to infections, something or the other would crop up, leaving her in a miserable state. The situation worsened when she was detected with endometriosis, a painful condition in which the endometrium, the tissue that lines the inside of your uterus, grows outside it.
“I had a lot of miscarriages, and it led me to a condition called endometriosis, which is very common in women. The uterine wall starts to thicken up, and I think that became the starting point for me. I began getting a lot of UTI, issues with my periods, so I was constantly uncomfortable. And in the first phase of cancer, when the issue got more severe, they thought the best thing was to remove the uterus, so that it doesn’t spread anywhere else,” she adds.
In 2004, Radhika underwent the surgery, because the doctor had cautioned her that the cancer could affect all her reproductive parts. That’s when she knew this couldn’t be delayed at all.
After dealing with uterine cancer, Radhika was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, but she was certain allopathy was not what she wanted to go for. This time, her decision was to stick to naturopathy.
“Between 2004 and 2009, I had met a naturopath Pankaj Dabhi, who had cured a skin allergy that I had been suffering for more than a decade. Even after going through a series of allopathic consultations, no one could detect my issue, but this natural treatment helped my condition only in three sittings. Not only did my situation get better, it was completely eradicated,” she adds.
It was this naturopath who explained to her the importance of all systems of medicine, and recommended allopathy only when there’s an emergency. Since Radhika’s cancer was in the first stage, he said a change in lifestyle would help her, and it did.
“While many find it hard to believe; through diet, exercise, meditation, and physical treatments, my tumors started reducing and finally disappeared — something that was a miracle! My allopathy doctors couldn’t believe it and still didn’t support this theory. But I have seen it work first-hand. However, the process was very painful, involving treatments that took time and energy. For three months, I underwent naturopathic treatment, which is tedious and requires much effort, but the good part is my cancer never came back,” she explains.
For Radhika, her tryst with cancer the second time around, changed her entire life.
“It allowed me to think about so many things that we dismiss. It has truly been an eye-opener,” she says.
It wasn’t that she was inherently inclined towards mountaineering, but it all happened when she went to the Himalayas for her naturopathic treatment.
“My naturopath had told me that my pranas are low, and I had to pick between Himalayas or Kerala for treatment. I don’t know why but I instantly chose the Himalayas, and although I was supposed to stay there for 20 days or so, I ended up being there for four and a half months, serving at Baba Dhuninath’s ashram,” says Radhika.
Her children were too young at this point, but Radhika says all of them were supportive. Her eldest daughter had only heard of her mother’s disease, once she returned from the Himalayas. Radhika’s other two children understood that their mother had to go somewhere to get treated, and stood by her at all times.
One of their most memorable experiences together was scaling Mount Kilimanjaro. It was important for Radhika that her children understood the role of the mountains in her life, and that’s why she took this step.
“I think the time spent together in silence is so memorable. Goutami, my eldest one had scaled three mountains with me, but for the other two, it was their first trekking experience. I feel kids adapt so fast, they really go with the flow. They have so much power in them,” says Radhika, adding that the kids had to do a safari after this expedition, which was a big incentive for them.
“Women are fine-wired to responsibilities. But what we forget is that we spend our energy taking care of others and forget ourselves.Take care of yourself too, what is it that you want? Women have so much power in them; we just need to be more strong, confident and united,” says Radhika, signing off.