TODAY -

"Storms make trees take deeper roots": Insights of a cancer survivor with indomitable spirit

Shobha Shukla *

story of Nita Mullick - a cancer survivor
story of Nita Mullick - a cancer survivor



- CNS Special on World Health Day 2017 -

"One night, in the summer of 2013, I felt a twitch in my breast. It was something like if you hurt your toenail. Having a family history of cancer, I did not want to take any chance, and promptly saw my doctor the very next day. He reassured me that there was nothing to worry, more so because there was no lump."

"But I insisted for a test. Reluctantly, as if to satisfy my whims, he sent me for an ultrasound, and there was something amiss there. So I was asked to come the next day for an FNAC (fine needle aspiration cytology). I had no idea what that word meant. I mistook it for 'effanacy' and tried to google search it unsuccessfully. It was only in the hospital next morning that I came to know that it was a diagnostic procedure to investigate lumps under the skin. It was an extremely painful process. The needle had to be inserted really deep, as perhaps my cancer was just in its infancy and embedded deep in my breast. In 2-3 days time, biopsy confirmed diagnosis of cancer. My doctor suggested immediate surgery and I, as well as my family, agreed to it. My whole world was turned upside down within a few days' time. My summer vacations had just begun and I was all set to visit my daughter in Sydney who had delivered a baby. Instead I landed on the operation table. Strange are the ways of God!"

This is the story of Nita Mullick - a gutsy lady - who candidly shared with CNS (Citizen News Service) her first hand brush with the dreaded disease. She confided "I have never opened up so much to anyone before."

A mother of two children, Nita's first thought when the doctor pronounced the verdict was, 'Lord I do not want to leave this world so early'. She had already lost her father to prostate cancer in 1975 and her sister had been cured of breast cancer in 2006. She knew the seriousness of her situation, but made a firm decision that she will not let cancer win, rather she will win over cancer.

Post mastectomy, Nita had to undergo 6 cycles of chemotherapy, at intervals of 21 days each. This was a very difficult period for her. Every cycle of chemotherapy (which involved intravenous administration of drugs) lasted 8-10 hours and took an entire day at the hospital. On returning home from there she would suffer nausea, exhaustion, loss of appetite, body ache and a general uneasiness that would continue for the next few days.

"But the most traumatic part was that by the second chemotherapy cycle, I had lost all my hair. More than anything else, this loss of hair was something that I found very difficult to deal with. Chemotherapy also made my skin dark, and my nails black. It was easy for the doctor to say that things will improve soon, but the time you have to pass like this looks like a lifetime. Gradually I did get over it."

"A cancer diagnosis changes your life and the lives of people who love you. My husband, my children, and my mother worried about losing me. My friends were not sure what to say to me when they learnt that I had cancer. But the emotional support I got from my near and dear ones helped me in my recovery. Their visits lifted my spirits and will power."

"I also found emotional support in my work. All through my treatment, I continued with my job as a teacher. I remember when, with a scarf over my head (I never wore a wig), I faced my class of 16-17 year olds, for the first time after surgery. I could almost hear my heartbeat while waiting for their reaction. They all sat there in an eerie silence. Eventually I gathered courage and gave them a talk on the uncertainty of life; on how life can suddenly change for anyone and at anytime. I turned the sombre scenario into a positive one."

It is nearly three years now, since Nita has been off medication. She does not feel any discomfort, nor suffers from any after effects of the treatment, except that she feels very hot. "Perhaps I can now flaunt my chiffons even during winters", she jokes. Keeping a positive attitude, eating a healthy diet, doing regular exercises, and bonding with friends and family have helped her maintain her mental balance.

It is crucial for cancer patients to be informed and prepared mentally to deal with the aftermath of surgery. Hence the acute need for counsellors and sensitive doctors who can allay the fears and doubts of cancer patients. Nurses too, especially those administering chemotherapy, need to be better trained to deal with cancer patients; and special attention should be paid to infection control, feels Nita.

"I did not know what I was to go through post surgery. My doctor did give me a broad outline of what was to happen and told me matter-of factly - 'You will lose hair, but then you will get better hair'. But nobody had prepared me to deal with the trauma of facing the world in those 8 months when I would be without any hair. I was left on my own to handle it. Maybe a small pep talk could have helped. I had the inner strength and so I managed, but most others cannot. Patients should be part of the treatment process and be actively involved with it."

"I could afford to be admitted in the private ward of a private hospital. But the condition of the general wards was deplorable. A cancer patient is susceptible to catching infections, due to poor immunity. And yet the dirty toilets in the general ward were like a storehouse of infections. There needs to be better infection control, at least in the cancer wards".

There is an urgent need to spread awareness about breast cancer and its symptoms; remove myths related to it; and encourage women to talk about it openly and to not ignore the early symptoms. All this is very important for early diagnosis, which can save lives, as delay in treatment can spell disaster. This is possible only through regular breast self examination and medical check-ups/screening tests, insists Nita.

"In my case, that 'once-only' twitch did not occur a second time. And so it could have been easily ignored, were it not for my being extra cautious and vigilant. I also kept a very positive attitude during the treatment, repeatedly reminding myself that it was only life interrupted, not life stopped."

If one does get cancer, it is important to share the problem with others and not recede into a shell. "Recovery is always slow if you are on your own. I was going to school everyday during the course of my treatment. My colleagues' encouraging remarks like 'You are looking very smart with that scarf', would boost my morale. If I had kept sulking at home or avoided going out, things would have been worse. The feel good factor helps a lot".

Cancer not only affects ones physical health, it also affects the thinking process. One starts valuing life, family and friends, and stops begrudging what one does not have. It makes fighters like Nita realise that things could have been worse and that she was lucky. She sure was lucky through her grit and determination.

Three cheers for all those women (and men) who have survived daunting odds. They are there because they could!


* Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service) wrote this article for e-pao.net
Shobha Shukla is CNS Managing Editor and thematic lead on gender and health justice at Citizen News Service. She has taught physics at India's prestigious Loreto Convent for over three decades. Follow her on Twitter @Shobha1Shukla or visit: www.citizen-news.org
This article was posted on April 03, 2017.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Shopping - 30 March #1 : Gallery
  • Status Update 30 March: Medical Directorate
  • Stop Hate in the Time of Corona
  • April Calendar for Year 2020 : Tools
  • Manipuris stranded in State : Nodal Officer
  • Covid-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • Mask distributed at Kumbi
  • Nothing spreads like fear
  • Letter to Prime Minister on Racial Attack
  • Lockdown : Ensuring food for all
  • Covid-19: Manipur Strategy to Prevent & Win
  • Status Update 29 March: Medical Directorate
  • Covid-19 or Racism, which one to fight first ?
  • MHA to Chief Secys of States [Mar 29]
  • Home Delivery- Imphal Dists [Mar 29]
  • Shop List opened - Bishenpur [March 29]
  • Violating anti-defection law
  • Why PM want Leishemba to be RS MP #2
  • Manipur Govt Orders [28 March] : Gallery
  • Status Update 28 March: Medical Directorate
  • Medical material airlifted from Delhi to Imphal
  • Coronavirus Combat; not just Govt's fight
  • Lack of availability of Medicines, Water..
  • Research to plug gaps in COVID-19 testing
  • RIMS areas disinfected - [March 26] : Gallery
  • Makanmi, Namthujin, Sayoni: eMing
  • Status Update 27 March: Medical Directorate
  • Manipur Govt Orders/Directives : 27 March
  • FEGOCTA donate 1 Day Salary to CM's Fund
  • Cure for COVID
  • What a respect to the caregivers !
  • Charity Mission Committee on COVID-19
  • NH7 Weekender : Online music festival
  • Lockdown amid curfew
  • PDS rice to CMHT excluded Keishamthong?
  • Curfew in Imphal - [March 24] : Gallery
  • COVID-19 helpline numbers in Manipur
  • Screening at Mao [Mar 20] : Gallery
  • COVID 19 & Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897
  • Decoding Tax Jargon through March Ending
  • NPF urged Nagaland Govt on COVID-19
  • Food items to Child Care Institutes
  • Hand rub bottles manufactured & distributed
  • Studying the total shutdown in Manipur
  • Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #1 : Gallery
  • Social Distancing observed [Mar 25] : Gallery
  • An appeal to all on COVID19
  • What is love ? :: Poem
  • Career option in Geomagnetism
  • Kohima gets a brand new song
  • Communique on Covid-19 : Nagaland Oppn
  • CM Covid-19 Relief Fund created
  • 12 on board flight with patient quarantined
  • Quiet celebration of Cheiraoba
  • Quarantine started- Mao -Mar 24 : Gallery
  • Leikai Public curfew -Mar 24 : Gallery
  • Stop stigma of Covid 19 +Positive Friends
  • Media : Essential services during lockdown
  • Acts of Kindness, Unity among Communities
  • Racist attacks on people from North-east
  • A friend in need is a friend indeed
  • Enforce total lockdown in Nagaland :: NPCC
  • Ugly response to positive case of COVID-19
  • First Case in Manipur
  • Lamphel Nawa Kombirei at Cheiraoba
  • Woman returned from UK has Coronavirus
  • Screening at Mao - Mar 22 : Gallery
  • Why PM want Leishemba to be RS MP #1
  • Janata Curfew - 'Go corona' festival
  • Panacea for Economic Collapse: COVID-19
  • Total Lockdown till March 31st
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba - Meitei New Year Day
  • Giving racial twist to coronavirus
  • Need action to those mocking PM
  • COVID: Janata Curfew -Mar 22 #1 : Gallery
  • Manipur Govt Orders - Mar 22 : Gallery
  • Status Update 22 March: Medical Dir Lamphel
  • We will get by. We will survive.
  • Covid-19: Impact in Manipur :: Photos/News..
  • War against Corona
  • What ails Indian Railways
  • Appeal to Govt during COVID 19 crisis
  • Hats off to the men in white
  • COVID-19: Ima Keithel -March 21 : Gallery
  • Bandh on March 21 : Gallery
  • Social Justice & Democracy in Northeast
  • Sociology of Coronavirus
  • COCOMI extended help to victims of Chassad
  • The Omnipresent Fear :: Poem
  • MU Chemistry Dept makes hand sanitisers
  • COVID-19 : A blessing for Khwairamband
  • Wakching Thagi Sanarei #2 :: eRang
  • Who will rebuild Chahsat village ?
  • The untameable :: Poem
  • Importance of Fish & Fishery in Manipur
  • Challenges for female entrepreneur in India
  • The Killing Fields 2013-20 : News Timeline
  • How well prepared is Manipur?
  • More seriousness needed to fight COVID-19
  • Khongu NangGi Baasi :: Shumang Leela
  • Yaoshang Fancy Dress #1 : Gallery
  • Journalistic Challenges in Reporting Chassad
  • Paneer Our Daughter's Delight
  • Civil Site Engineer / Site Manager
  • Architectural Designer at R-Square
  • Research Officer - Financial at Amethyst
  • Chinky to Coronavirus: Racial profiling chain
  • Promises, prosperity, Rights & Responsibility
  • Wars, Devastation & events in Kakching #1
  • When Chassad Blazed Our Hearts Burnt
  • Nagas entering final phase of power struggle
  • Climate change & predator : Any link?
  • Restore Chassad village to normal condition
  • The other side of Covid-19
  • Is Manipur taking adequate steps?
  • Silencing the voice of dissent
  • Dzukou Valley, Senapati #3 : Gallery
  • Condemns the burning at Chassad Village
  • Conduct fact finding mission at Kamjong
  • Lost at the edge of uncertainty!
  • Global Youth Peace Conclave postponed
  • Entrance exams after 10 + 2
  • Workshop organized on Einstein's birthday
  • Titular King in the race for RS
  • Coronavirus, H1N1 & garbage in Imphal
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand : Timeline
  • Yaoshang Sports Meet #2 : Gallery
  • Restoring Chassad- the village with no house
  • Manipur Maharaj & House of Lords
  • COVID-19 : Hand sanitizers at Bangalore
  • Appeal to install Covid-19 test in Nagaland
  • Communal violence & over-lap ethnic aspiration
  • Understanding Ponzi scheme
  • Yaoshang Halankar #1 : Gallery
  • Yaoshang Sports Meet #1 : Gallery
  • Nano Technology in Bio Organic Fertilizer
  • Joydev Thongam: Story behind the muscles
  • COVID-19: Agent to end Economic Globalisation
  • Cannabis in HIV and AIDS
  • Is society gender-sensitive enough ?
  • Day light Thabal Chongba #1 : Gallery
  • Intl Women's Day @ Imphal : Gallery
  • International Rivers Day at Kangoi Area
  • Getting workplace ready for COVID-19
  • A Tale on Yaoshang :: Poem
  • India's improving journo-murder index
  • But Leishemba should also act politically
  • Yaoshang Marathon @ Singjamei : Gallery
  • Wangkhem Rezia : Success Stories NE
  • Guwahati Music Festival #2 : Gallery
  • A Beautiful Mind :: Poem
  • Of Purity and Arrival of Spring
  • Fr Biju Michael - Salesian South Asia
  • Yaoshang Cheng Khaiba : Gallery
  • Saroi Khangba @ Khwairamband : Gallery
  • Intl Women's Day @ Bangalore : Gallery
  • Women's health & nutirition - A glance
  • Manipur band wins at Guwahati Intl Music Fest
  • Human Beings as a bait in battle of Vice
  • 2019 Year review : Ministry of AYUSH #2
  • Journalist Sports Meet: Winner announced
  • Manipur schools to close till March 31
  • Shah's Manipur visit postponed
  • Family of late Shaiza clarifies
  • Yaoshang Rock @Sagolband :: Gallery
  • MOU - Guest House at Mandalay :: Gallery
  • #VOLUNTEER4HEALTH launched at Delhi
  • Summer breeze and Autumn leaves :: Poem
  • Why afraid of corona ?
  • Yaoshang Thabal at Bangalore postponed
  • 2nd year of PDA..lots of controversy
  • Yaoshang Mei Thaba :: Gallery
  • Until the right time, I had let you go :: Poem
  • Festival of Holi- Brahma Kumaris concept
  • Women studies as career choice
  • Consultative meeting with NPF Manipur
  • Condemns killing, calls for action against AR
  • Yaoshang Mei Loukhatpa @ Kangla :: Gallery
  • Health Camp at Pune :: Gallery
  • International Women's Day at Bangalore
  • Universal access to sexual health services
  • Health Camp on Women's Day at Pune
  • More employment for our politicians
  • Gender Resource Centre in Agriculture
  • Entry points at Indo-Myanmar border sealed
  • Peace rallies urge PM for early Naga solution
  • Reversing masculinization of India's workforce
  • Torch Rally: Journalist Sports: Gallery
  • CAA - An Act of isolation & destruction
  • Economic growth or grimmer ..Coronavirus
  • Tribal Youth Fest Marks Women's Day
  • Holi skin and hair care tips
  • Politics of South China Sea Disputes : Book
  • CM's appeal : Scale down Yaoshang revelry
  • 1st Barak Festival @Senapati: Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2020 #1: Gallery
  • Yaoshang (Holi) Festival :: Book
  • Churup Ki Mahao : Short story
  • Gender equality still a distant dream
  • Remove Chairperson, Women Commission
  • Celebrating Women's day
  • Phisakol - Film Scenes #2 :: eRang
  • yeniHTa :: Seireng
  • N Romeo promoted to Brigadier at Army
  • Cry of a Dying River
  • Never closer & this is only beginning
  • Vacancy at Info Trade, Lamphelpat
  • Ugly development at exam centre
  • Govt should think before dealing Salai case
  • Yaoshang Thabal Peisa donation: Gallery
  • Sangai Festival [Nov 28] #2 : Gallery
  • Message from a breast cancer thriver
  • Leishangthem Bala : NE Success Stories
  • A Bhakta: Treasurer- Indian Journalist Union
  • The unique 63 Saints Festival
  • Restrictions on Thabal Chongba
  • Essence of celebrating Yaoshang
  • World Meetei Convention @Cachar : Gallery
  • Women Empowerment :: Poem
  • Licypriya Kangujam to address at Washington
  • Bringing Into Disrepute ?
  • 10th Journalist Sports Meet, 2020
  • Women in Armed Forces
  • The virtues of virtual marketing
  • Negligence by child institution of Imphal East
  • From Wuhan to over 70 countries
  • Killer virus reaches neighbouring Myanmar
  • Lui-ngai-ni, Naga festival @Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • 13th Mega Marathon Manipur #3 : Gallery
  • A fish in the jar :: Poem
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Guwahati Intl Music Festival : Gallery
  • Saroi Khangba @ Imphal #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Wakching Thana Lakpada #2 :: eRang
  • Students @ Class XII Exam #2 : Gallery
  • Bangladeshki Sana Tampha #1 :: eRang
  • Manipur Legislative Assembly Building : Gallery
  • Eepan Thaba -birth ceremony : Gallery
  • Apple Farm @ Kumbi : Gallery
  • Coronavirus prevention @ Moreh : Gallery
  • Gaan-Ngai at Kakhulong #2 : Gallery
  • SPONSORED ADS