Zuvius: What were the circumstances that made you decide to go for a checkup?
Aruna: I experienced continuous loss of appetite and loss of weight, skin trouble and change of taste for nearly 1 ½ years. After various tests, running around consulting various doctors for nearly 1 ½ years, finally was diagnosed on 26.02.11 with Ovarian cancer.
Zuvius: How did you decide which hospital/doctor you should go to for further treatment?
Aruna: I decided to go to Mahavir Cancer Hospital, Jaipur as my late brother knew the doctors there who had earlier treated my mother for breast cancer. Also, I was staying alone in Delhi with my two kids and there was no one to look after me.
Zuvius: What was your immediate response on learning you had cancer?
Aruna: Initially, just numbness. Slowly it started to sink in and devastation and trauma set in.
Zuvius: Who was the first person you called to tell about your diagnosis?
Aruna: My late brother.
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Zuvius: Can you tell us what kind of cancer you had and what was the procedure of treatment prescribed?
Aruna: I was detected with Ovarian Cancer Stage III, on 26.02.11. The treatment prescribed was 3 cycles of chemotherapy, surgery (removal of ovaries and uterus and other affected parts) and again 3 cycles of chemotherapy.
In Oct-Nov 2012 there was a relapse and the cancer and spread to various parts of the body. Again 9 cycles of chemotherapy were prescribed which was over in August, 2013.
In September, 2014 there was second relapse and 6 cycles of chemotherapy with 2 chemos within 8 days in each cycle were prescribed. This phase of chemos was over in February 2015. I am presently in remission and on medicines.
Zuvius: Who and what kept your spirit up, gave you the strength and confidence to go through this difficult phase of treatment without losing hope?
Aruna: My children – daughter and son, for whom I had to get better as they had lost their father at a very young age. I had to keep my spirit up always so that they had the strength to come out of this trauma as better persons.
My later brother, his wife and my mother always took care of me and supported me to keep my hopes high.
And I cannot thank Internet and smart phone and especially Twitter for keeping me busy and my mind diverted through the ordeal.
Zuvius: What were the physical changes seen in yourself, in your daily life and how did you cope with those?
Aruna: During the chemotherapy for the first time I had lost all my hair, my skin had turned dark and I had lost lot of weight. I had become very weak. Though I was not looking very good I made sure that I remained fresh always, wore fresh ironed clothes every day. I got up early and got ready as I used to get ready for office. I kept my mind diverted by getting involved in all the TV serials my mother used to watch. And Twitter also kept me busy.
Zuvius: Did having cancer change your perspective on life, things around you?
Aruna: Yes. Cancer has made me fearless and I now believe in living the moment. I have developed new hobbies like gardening, knitting for kids of friends/colleagues/relatives, phone photography, writing blogs and poems. I have become calmer and I am at peace with myself. I have stopped thinking about the future.
Zuvius: Did it affect the lives of people around you? If so how?
Aruna: Yes it has. My children have become more responsible, caring and grateful for everything they have. We cherish each other more and enjoy living in the moment.
Zuvius: What were your conceptions about cancer before and after the treatment?
Aruna: I was very scared of cancer before it hit me. I was so scared that I avoided looking at any cancer hospital whenever I chanced to pass by any Cancer Hospital. I had seen my friend die of cancer and it scared me to death.
After having been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the treatment still going on, now I am not so scared and in fact my doctors assured me that they will treat the disease as diabetes is treated i.e. it will be kept under control. I am now comfortable. In fact I am now more at ease and happier.