Real Life Stories

Known Surprises

Madhu Khanna
Madhu Khanna

15th January, 2019, its 8 o’clock in the morning and I am very excited to get ready for my next training session in Hyderabad. Oh! But I suddenly felt a lump in my right breast while getting ready. 

All this brought back me the memories of my mother who was diagnosed and treated of Stage 2 breast cancer in the year 2002 wherein a mastectomy and chemotherapy were done. Unfortunately, it again resurfaced in 2013 in the form of Uterus cancer, which was again very physically and mentally taxing for her.I got a sudden bolt that I might have to go through the same traumatic experience sent shivers in my body for some moments and mind went blank.

This also reminded me of Dr. Rajinder Kaur Saggu’s session on Breast cancer in our organisation held on Women’s Day 2017. I never thought I could be so ignorant even after being aware of the risks and signs of Breast Cancer and till the age of 46, of not going through any screening tests. 

However, trying to still stay upbeat, I proceeded to my training till 19th January 2019. When I returned to Delhi, I again put the thought of cancer on back burner and started to get prepared for a vacation with my husband and some of our best friends to Thailand. Getting there, I couldn’t keep my worry in my mind any longer and told my husband about the issue . He got so concerned throughout the trip, that he kept thinking about it. I also told my friends about it and all of them persuaded me to visit a doctor as soon as we return home.

On 1st Feb we returned to Delhi and I immediately booked an appointment with my Gynaecologist for the 2nd of February who immediately referred me for a mammogram and ultrasound. The ultrasonologist looked concerned and this worried us even more. As expected, the reports did not look good and I was advised to see an Oncologist. I still couldn’t believe that the word ‘CANCER’ was back in my life and I did not do anything about it to prevent it. However, Dr. Saggu’s words had stayed with me and I immediately booked an appointment for the very next day.

Upon meeting her, I went through routine tests and gave a detailed family history of cancer, I was immediately advised for FNAC in the Pathology Department. All hell broke loose when I was conveyed my FNAC report the next day and I was facing with the reality of having a “Carcinoma in the Duct”. I felt completely broken and mentally shouted at myself for being so negligible. The worst part was that, as a well educated and well read woman, I knew of all the risks and the tests and yet I ignored to get any till that time. But Dr. Rajinder Kaur took care of me not only as my physician, but also became my emotional and psychological support and gave me added strength to deal with this disease.

I went for the next appointment to meet Dr. Rajinder with my husband and my parents where everything was explained to me in detail, that a lumpectomy will be conducted and based on the biopsy reports, it’ll be clearer as to what is the stage, type of cancer and what will be the course of treatment. As I was mentally preparing myself for this life changing surgery, I got mixed news in the form of a rather daunting PET Scan report which confirmed that even though all my other organs were cancer free, the number of lumps were many, so I had Multifocal disease.

Keeping all this in mind, Dr. Kaur suggested Segmental Mastectomy (part of breast to be removed) along with a breast reconstruction. Everything was readily arranged and all hands were on deck to take care of any and all of my needs. My surgery went off well in hands of Dr. Saggu and next was Radiation therapy which turned out to be relatively comfortable with almost no side effects at all. Chemotherapy was not required in my case as I had only DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ) Stage 0 Cancer. Now I am on hormonal therapy and leading a normal life.

Looking back, the best decisions were the one that were taken in the spur of the moment, visiting Dr. Kaur in a timely manner really helped us get a hold over this disease at early stage and the constant support from my family and friends, especially from my husband gave me the much needed strength to face this ordeal. I am so glad today to have a healthy body image and I carry my breast with utmost grace and femininity. As Dr. Saggu rightly said and I humbly agree, “I am a blessed soul.”