Hi, my name is Swati Suramya. I live in Bangalore. I am a content writer by profession, I was about 34, a mother of a three-year-old, when I found out I had breast cancer. I was shocked because I am a reasonably fit individual, active, and relatively young to have cancer.
When I was having a casual conversation with my neighbour, I heard that her mother in law had been diagnosed with breast cancer. That struck me as something that could affect anyone and I remember thinking that I should do a breast self-exam.
But when I did a self-exam, I found a large lump in my left breast. So I went and saw my doctor. They felt it was benign and I had to go through a general surgery to have it removed. But after surgery, it was sent for a biopsy. That’s when I was diagnosed with cancer.
My parents were around at that time. They had come over to take care of my daughter while I was going through the surgery. All of us were quite shocked, to be honest. But I told myself that I had to be strong. Because if I wasn’t strong, the rest of my family would break down.
My parents after the initial sadness decided that they would take absolute care of me until I recovered completely. I remember them, you know, running around taking care of my daughter picking her up from school; mom cooking separate meals for me because I could not eat most of things while undergoing chemotherapy. I lost only 2 kilos during my chemotherapy—most people lose like 10 to 20 kilos. She took such good care of my diet, my daughter, and the household.
My husband would go to every doctor’s appointment with me. He would handle my mood swings during chemo. He just tried to just be the pillar that we all needed to lean on.
Any delay would have made things worse… throw our entire lives into disarray. I had to undergo a second surgery under an oncologist to make sure that the entirety of whatever remained of the cancer was removed.
The surgery was quite painful and the doctor decided to do a reconstruction of my breast because they had to remove about 40% of it. So they took a tissue from my back and they reconstructed my breast. I had tubes in for about 25 days. Not to mention, I caught an infection and all the while my daughter used to cry, because she wanted to be with me.
My daughter was three then and it was difficult to make her understand what was happening. If we sent her to school, she would throw up and she would want to come back. She was really scared. We had a tough time dealing with that situation. The initial three months were quite difficult.
My mental health took a toll too. I thought I had a high threshold for tolerating pain so far. And it shattered me. I could not take it any longer. I remember one night praying to God for everything to end. I was quite, quite broken at that point. Then in the morning I saw my daughter wake up, and that’s when I realized that I had a lot more to live for.
I completed my treatment in March this year. And the plan was to travel to the US to be with my brother on a few trips. Because of the pandemic that didn’t happen. But I have made sure that I maintain an active lifestyle. I’ve cut down on sugar completely and said no to processed food. If it comes in a packet, I don’t need it. I don’t buy it. So no processed food, only home-cooked meals.
I think the most important lesson that I’ve learned from this is that whatever happens happens for a reason. I think I got cancer because God was sending me a message. A wake-up call to start taking care of myself, love myself a little more.