In the Chronicles of Madisaar Maami, a series I used to write on my blog a long time ago, I stopped at Part 18 with Maami discovering a lump in her breast.
Almost five years later, in January this year, during a routine monthly self-breast exam, I felt a largish lump in my breast. The same week, Amma, my mother-in-law had been diagnosed with last-stage cancer and was in hospital.
It was a trying time for all of us. Did it rattle me? Yes, it did. I have a history of breast cancer in the family. My mother died of it when I was 11 and my maternal aunt (who incidentally is my mother’s cousin) also died of it a few years ago.
What helped me assuage my fears, even a teeny bit was that I had the knowledge. From 2008, I have been involved in breast cancer awareness campaigns for the magazine I worked for in Muscat – and through them I met the lovely Dr. Rajyashree who became to me, a de facto sister – and helped me through many ultrasounds, a mammogram, and MRI – instilling in me the firm belief that there was a solution to everything – even if God forbid, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
This time around too, Dr. Raji was emphatic in the belief that ‘everything was okay’. So while constantly messaging her, I had a mammogram and a sonomammography here in Bangalore. It revealed quite a large cyst which looked benign to the radiologist but to be doubly sure, the oncologist suggested a biopsy.
Even though I have a low threshold for pain, more than the fear, it was the anxiety rearing its head once again. Each test takes me back to the past, of a time of suffering, numerous hospital visits and chemo sessions. I always pictured my mother going through hell – and didn’t want my family to suffer because of me.
The biopsy results came yesterday. The sample was benign. I would need to be on alert, however, all my life to any changes happening in my body. That one, I would do gladly.
And through all this, I had my friends here and in Muscat with me, cracking jokes, sending texts and WhatsApp messages and their prayers. I kept close to my heart my dear friend Gulu’s mantra, “It’s all good!” And yes, it worked.
The purpose of this post is not to elicit any sympathy but rather call upon all women out there to take their health seriously.
Most of my friends are above 40 and have not had a mammogram, yet. What stops you? Pain? The expense? The belief that nothing will happen to you?
Well, we can all be as myopic as we want to with life, but when it comes to health, to put it on the backburner is downright foolish.
This Women’s Day, make a pledge to yourself – that your health, and in turn, your happiness will be your top priority.
Only then, can you make a difference in the lives of others.
Happy Women’s Day!