Losing her eyesight to cancer didn’t stop 21-year-old Bhakti Ghatole from heading towards her goals. She recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree and is on the path towards becoming an IAS officer.
Retinoblastoma is a deadly eye cancer that affects one’s retina. This disease is rare and seen exclusively in young children; it can develop either in one eye or in both. Bhakti Ghatole was six months old when she was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma in her right eye. The treatment left her cancer-free but the good news came with the loss of her right eye.
Unfortunately, seven-year-old Bhakti returned to the oncologist and was diagnosed with cancer in her left eye. Since Bhakti’s family hailed from a small village of Katol, it was tough to find expert doctors and quality treatments. Her parents, Ramesh Ghatole, a development officer with National Insurance Company, and Sushma Ghatole, a homemaker, decided to move to Nagpur, seeking better facilities. Realising the technological limitations, the family travelled back and forth to Chennai and Hyderabad so that Bhakti could be treated. Twenty five sessions of chemotherapy and two years later, she lost her left eye as well.
Being nine years old and coming to terms with a life without sight was initially a difficult process. Her taxing battle against cancer had left her mentally exhausted as well. Soon after returning to Nagpur, she visited Yoga Abhyas Mandal and picked up yoga and meditation. This helped her cope with the change and embrace a more positive mindset.
She continued to attend a regular school, by learning Braille and with some help from her older sister. One of the most inspiring moments in her life was meeting her mentor and teacher, Jidnyasa Kubde. Kubde founded Atmadeepam Society, an NGO that believes that technology is disabled-friendly. Through this, she teaches and trains visually impaired individuals to use computers, enabling them to be more autonomous.
With a computer, things got easier for Bhakti and she could perform most tasks that she couldn’t do before. She even wrote her school exams using a computer. Bhakti’s potential was reflected when she scored 94% in Class 10 and came second in her state in Class 12. As she continues college, she maintains high grades and looks forward to becoming a psychologist. She plans to eventually follow her dream of becoming an IAS officer.
We can definitely take a page from her book and look at life in a more optimistic light. In one of the interviews she gave, her words were full of humility and inspiration: “I felt so happy to have made my family proud. It’s never been easy, but I have never felt incomplete. Yes, my disability could be a hurdle sometimes, but it certainly cannot stop me from pursuing my dreams. Life is beautiful and I intend to live it to the fullest.”
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