Tue, 20 Aug, 2019

Story of a Cancer Survivor: Strong Enough To Start Over a New Life

By Nisha Dhungana

Photo Courtesy : Rojina Shrestha

Do not stress upon things, the problem you thought was bigger may just be a test of your endurance.” A woman who went through a rain of pain made this statement with ease.

Shyam Kumari Shrestha, who is also the mother of Rojina Shrestha (Student of Batch of 2017), seemed like she did not have a hint of a pain which she went through a couple of months ago. The smile on her face and sparkle on her eyes hid all the difficulties she went through. “It all started about 8-9 months ago when I was sleeping. My hand fell upon my right breast and I felt an unusual lump of muscle in it. I got afraid, so I got up and rushed directly towards my elder daughter. She felt it too and said with a horrified voice, you need to go the hospital as soon as possible.” The nightmare started haunting her. She was terrified about the disease she may have, and she was terrified for her children, her family and herself. She, as suggested by her elder daughter ROSHNI, went to Norvic hospital and met Doctor Prakash Neupane. Dr Neupane advised her to take certain tests and the tests showed that she had BREAST CANCER. “No matter how courageous or brave you are, you get scared to death when you hear that you have cancer.” she addressed.

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She then asked the doctor what she should do. With the suggestion of the doctor, she immediately got admitted to Bhaktapur cancer hospital and went through an operation. She said, “After the operation, again certain tests were taken. I do not know what those tests were, but it showed negative and that meant I had to take medicines and had to go through chemotherapy and radiations.”

“Until then it was easy, I didn’t feel a pinch of pain, not when I had lumps, not during the operation and not after the operation. Chemotherapy was the most difficult stage I went through. After the first therapy session all of my hair was gone and I went bald. My body became so weak that I could not even sit on a chair. The color of my tongue became black. I could not eat anything and I threw up whatever I ate. Doctors gave me a medicine that slowly rinsed off the effect of chemotherapy on my mouth and I could eat bite by bite with improvement.” I was curious what chemotherapy does that makes the body of a patient so weak, so I asked her if she knew about it, to which she answered “Chemo is the process of killing the germs or cells that causes cancer. The medicine is injected to our body and the medicine flows through the veins killing all the cells that causes cancer. The medicine not only kills cancer cells but it also kills the human immunity power and our body lacks the power to work properly. Our body becomes weak and we are unable to intake food.”

She had to take chemotherapy after every 21 days and she needed at least 10-15 days to recover from the previous therapy. She was in a miserable condition, and if she didn’t have the family that supported her, cared for her, and took every step they could to make her feel better, she would not be able to recover that easily. “The earthquake added another trouble to the pain I already was bearing. I had therapy just a day before the earthquake and I was not in a condition to move an inch. My daughters and other relatives grabbed me by my hand and took me to a safe shelter. We went to Kirtipur to our relative’s place but that did not work as I got infection by sleeping on the cold floor. Therefore they took me back.” She went through eight such chemo-therapies and 16 radiations and every time the pain was the same.

When I asked her if anything good happened during these adverse conditions, she smiled and said “I got to know that my family loves me a lot and are willing to do anything for me. I learned the limits of my strength and patience. I understood nothing is permanent and being strong is the only way to deal with problems.”

She went to Bharatpur cancer hospital to get radiations and says that she feels nothing now. That pain, that trouble she went through is nothing. “I do yoga and exercise every morning. I do not feel like I have suffered from cancer in the past and I feel more confident, happy and a lot more satisfied with what I have than I ever was.”

She suggests every woman to be careful, to carry on examinations of breasts and reproductive organs from time to time. “You do not feel like something is wrong with your body until it gains certain weight because you do not feel any pain or uneasiness. That is why you need to be aware. See if you have any problems by examining yourself. Cancer can happen to anyone and at any place. Do not ask why me at that time. Rather, have patience and believe in yourself.”

People like Shyam Kumari have shown so much strength through all the pain, that it makes life seem easy to others. What I learned from her smile is that no matter what comes in life, stay strong, face it and you can achieve something you never expected to achieve. She is an inspiration to people who tend to lose their hope very soon. I hope her smile remains the same in the days to come and hope that she becomes a motivation to the people around her.

“Child, you need to eat. Why are you taking such a little amount of food? I am going add some more.” Her love of feeding her guests will never fade away.

I would like to give special mentions to Rojina Shrestha and Sharun Sangat for helping me during the interview.

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