Life beyond cancer - R. Anuradha tells how
Jan 19, 2006 - 5:29:37 PM
She is not just another woman who has overcome breast cancer. The 38-year-old's trauma has led to a moving autobiography and a short film, and R. Anuradha is now a guru of sorts for patients of the killer disease.
The courage and determination the assistant news editor at Doordarshan television here displayed since she was declared a victim of cancer in 1998 made the Outlook magazine name her as one of 10 heroes called "The Indies".
Despite losing her breasts as well as her brother and mother to cancer, Anuradha comes across as a never-say-die woman.
"Now I know everything about cancer, about the disease, its treatment, the medicines and side effects. So I share my information with other women patients and try to make them courageous," Anuradha told IANS in an interview.
"Most women feel shattered when they get their breasts removed. They think that is the only symbol of their femininity. I tell them to treat it like any organ," said the woman, originally a resident of Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh.
Anuradha is back at work at Doordarshan's headquarters here, as normal as ever. She smiles a lot, and her colleagues are proud of her.
Her trauma began in May 1998, at age 30, when she discovered to her horror that she had cancer in her left breast.
Within months she underwent surgery. But even as she began to limp back to life came twin disasters: her mother died of cancer in 2000 and doctors found the disease had spread to Anduradha's other breast too.
More surgery followed last year, and Anuradha lost the second breast too.
The journalist in her made Anuradha sum up her struggle in an autobiographical book in Hindi called "Indradhanush ke Peeche Peeche" (Chasing the Rainbow), which become a bestseller in no time.
Students of Jamia Millia University here made a 20-minute short film "Bhor" (Dawn) on her, and it won raving reviews. A leading publisher is now planning to translate her book into English.
Anuradha has a single mission now: to create awareness about cancer, especially breast cancer.
"It was a very painful experience," she says of her years of her ordeal with cancer. "During my treatment in the first phase, my white blood cell count fell drastically. I was kept in isolation. I could not even meet my son.
"Then I had a relatively easy life for six years. But when I discovered lumps in my second breast, I felt disappointed because it had happened to me despite the utmost care I had taken.
"But my family's wholehearted support put me back on track," Anuradha said. She still shudders while recalling the pain she put up with because of chemotherapy.
Today, backed by some NGOs, she organises special camps and kitty parties where she talks to women about the dangers from cancer.
The disease and its strenuous treatment effected many changes in the once petite form. Her hair turned curly and then, with the treatment, straightened out again. She has since gained weight.
Anuradha is thankful to her son Arindam and husband Dileep Chandramandal, a senior producer with CNBC news channel, for standing by her.
"My son," she says with a tinge of pride, "never irritated me. In fact both my son and husband gave me strength and inspiration I badly needed."
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