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
  • The Great June 18 Uprising :: Sub-Site
  • Zeliangrong settlement at Heibokching #1
  • Mind Mapping
  • Virtual Assistant as career option
  • Environmental bio pollution in Manipur
  • Parenting - A challenge in modern time
  • From June 18, 2001 to June 18, 2019
  • Revolt by dissidents is a lesson for CM
  • The Great June 18 Uprising :: Flash
  • Bishnupriya Manipuri: Identity : Book
  • The Rain-Clad Skies of Imphal : Poem
  • Healthy ageing & screening tests
  • Adaptability to quality will boost Education
  • Greencane Industries
  • Staring at political & financial crisis
  • Indo-Myanmar ops on rebel camps
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #4
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • The Story of Two Incidents in One State
  • Cry of a Dying River - 80 : Poem
  • Combating climate change
  • Idea of selling seized liquor
  • Mutum Somorjit : Passed IIT Main/Advance
  • Chak-tangba, Overdraft & Game of Throne
  • Poumai Paoki Wrestling #1: Gallery
  • AEKo_Igi wari :: Seireng
  • Pettigrew contribution to Tribal practice #1
  • Man in White (MIW)
  • India Influence Report 2019
  • Skin care essentials for dry skin
  • Rejoinder to NDPP :: NPF [14 Jun]
  • Far removed from Cong Mukt slogan
  • Taming the traffic
  • Tolloi, Ukhrul :: 360 Panorama View
  • Heritage Park #1 : Gallery
  • Daniel Chabungbam in 7 best NE Journalist
  • Bamboo as a green gold bioresource
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Her Fantasy :: Poem
  • NDPP communique on NPF President
  • Pedagogy for 21st Century Teaching
  • Media Sensitization Workshop on Hepatitis
  • Taking back to 1999: Of overdraft & politics
  • The battle for the Throne
  • Lai Lamthokpa, Thangjing #3: Gallery
  • Invisible workforce: The domestic worker
  • Manipur - An Ethnic Dilemma #2
  • Contemporary issues in Mizoram : Book
  • Modern village administration #2
  • Mitigating hunger is only choice of a poor
  • Digitisation & Cyber Security Training
  • Disturbing dissent within the BJP
  • Id-ul-Fitr @ Hatta #2 : Gallery
  • An evening with Manipuri dance
  • Finally some semblance of awareness
  • Nationalism in Manipuri literature #3
  • Sail Away With Me :: Poem
  • World Music Day at Yaiskul, Imphal
  • Selected candidates to the Global Shapers
  • India-Myanmar conf: Better late than never
  • Thangjing Lai Haraoba : Beyond optics
  • Irungbam Padmabati : Khunung Eshei
  • A tribute to Arambam Somorendra
  • In quest of green vibes :: Poem
  • Workshop: Livelihood & Social Protection
  • Catering service as career option
  • Not yet an open revolt but not all well
  • Something more needed
  • Explain 'misleading' news, tells local daily
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #3
  • World Ocean Day 2019
  • Post election scenario : Manipur
  • ICC World Cup under the English Summer
  • Cry of a downtrodden State :: Poem
  • Yaithibi Loukol- violation of Land Act
  • Looking at politics of peace talk
  • Laija - Film Scenes #2 : eRang
  • Government Of India Stratagem
  • Love at Sunset :: Poem
  • Tips to make blood testing easy
  • IGNTU Seminar: Indo-Myanmar Relation
  • Budding Malwares in Manipur University
  • Aimol Baptist: Felicitation Program
  • Political uncertainty in Biren govt
  • Tangkhuls in traditions of Manipur #2
  • Imphal Jamboree- Improving state of youth
  • Zonel Sougaijam : Facebook Hall of Fame
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Stop Station construction @Sagoltongba
  • Diploma at Don Bosco School, Kalimpong
  • Condemn firing incident at NDPP Sec Gen
  • The art of shuffling, reshuffling
  • Of our identity
  • Id-ul-Fitr @ Hatta #1 : Gallery
  • Tree plantation by Journalists : Gallery
  • Manipur textiles & handicrafts export
  • Phou-su Phou-su khol :: Poem
  • Nationalism in Manipuri literature #2
  • Training on Cyber Security
  • World Environment Day : Go Green Call
  • Environment Day and Manipur
  • Bamboo Cooking Competition : Gallery
  • Exploring Indigenous Knowledge : Book
  • Traditional environmental ethics
  • Air pollution : Focal theme of WED
  • Career options in Optometry
  • World Environment Day at Kumbi
  • I Want to Make Dingko Biopic : Shahid
  • Kwatha: Aayush to play an army officer
  • NSCN (K) must take NCA path: Tatmadaw
  • Cabinet to be reshuffled this month: CM
  • Dzukou valley declared 'plastic-free zone'
  • Modi will resolve Naga issue.. N'land BJP
  • Manipur - An Ethnic Dilemma #1
  • he UpaL :: Seireng
  • Cry of a Dying River - 79 :: Poem
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • World Environment Day, 2019
  • Time to 'beat air pollution'
  • Free Heart Scan at SKY Hospital
  • Nagaland CM on World Environment Day
  • 50 percent absence at Cabinet meet
  • Introspecting self for good of society
  • Lai Lamthokpa, Thangjing #2: Gallery
  • BEHS interacted with Guv: Gallery
  • India's Forest policy 2018 & concerns
  • Khoidajei- best Music Video Award @ SIFF
  • A constellation of Five :: Poem
  • A moral obligation for CSOs in election
  • BEHS, Motbung, students tour Raj Bhavan
  • Job @JCRE Skill Solutions
  • Ghost of 2001 not yet exorcised
  • Concern for a clean environment
  • Paoki Paddy Festival @Purul #2: Gallery
  • puNsi IceL :: Seireng
  • Meiraba : U-19 singles at All India Ranking
  • Modern village administration #1
  • Schoolchildren in the Park :: Poem
  • Tree Plantation at RIMS, Lamphelpat
  • First suspect always the husband
  • Gudui Ngai @ Kakhulong #2 : Gallery
  • Nationalism in Manipuri literature #1
  • Rain compelling ritual of Meiteis
  • Nehru to Modi: Profiles of PM : Book
  • Heart that reserved for destitute kids
  • Summer beauty tips & tricks for busy mom
  • The unintended fear psychosis
  • Urmila Shagolsem : Miss India : Gallery
  • Draft Indian Forest Act & impact on Manipur
  • Tobacco in Manipur and COTPA
  • End victimization of Research Scholars
  • Another opportunity missed for Congress
  • Failing to fear insecurities is strength
  • World No Tobacco Day observed
  • Striking regional balance : 2 from NE
  • RIMS again: Why ?
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #2
  • June Calendar for Year 2019 :: Tools
  • Heat wave advisory : Medical Directorate
  • Cry of a Dying River - 78 :: Poem
  • 1st Sports Event at Bengaluru
  • Election-Politics-Parties & Govt
  • 'Know Your Assam Rifle' violate UN Protocol
  • Modi in second stint as PM
  • BJP, Liberal & Mayang Settler in time of CAB
  • Amur falcon reaches breeding site in China
  • Tangkhuls in traditions of Manipur #1
  • Sinnaiba, Akhul, Amom :: eMing
  • Keibul Lamjao National Park : Gallery
  • Rise & Fall of Cachari Kingdom #2
  • Industry try to co-opt World No Tobacco Day
  • A new economic policy of Manipur
  • Gossips & rumours around 303 of BJP
  • Turmoil within the Congress
  • Heal the wound before it rots
  • Lai Lamthokpa, Thangjing #1: Gallery
  • How Modi & Shah decimated Congress
  • Public health Care :: Book Review
  • Finding Elopement :: Poem
  • Function of Nampou of Zeliangrongs #2
  • Public Health (MPH) at IIPH- Shillong
  • Spelling out pratical plans
  • Vocational Programs at BSDU, Jaipur
  • Injecting civic senses to citizens
  • Political development : Impact on Congress
  • Gudui Ngai @ Kakhulong #1 : Gallery
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #1
  • Excercise of adult franchise in LS Poll
  • Voices less heard - women candidates
  • Paramedical courses as career options #2
  • Manipur Traffic : A game of fast & furious
  • Rev William Pettigrew & Modern Education
  • Cheirao-chingkaba #3 : Gallery
  • Old-Kuki group by Linguistic Survey in 1904
  • A constellation of Five :: Poem
  • A free stopover at Amsterdam
  • Standing in queue for exam form at MU
  • Questions on the ceasefire coverage
  • Paoki Paddy Festival @Purul #1: Gallery
  • Status of Naga-Kuki relation in Manipur #2
  • There is no 3rd option between true & false
  • Global Warming- Climate change & effect
  • Summertime Blues :: Poem
  • Blocked heart valve treated without surgery
  • Reality of Education system in Manipur
  • Laichombam Sapana @ JNMDA : Gallery
  • Rise & Fall of Cachari Kingdom #1
  • Modi once again- Reading Election result
  • Function of Nampou of Zeliangrongs #1
  • Zhaoshomai, indigenous religion of Liiyai
  • Fashion by Kumarjit Laishram #2 : Gallery
  • Dams as a death trap in Manipur
  • Raju Bista (Kangpoki) is MP of Darjeeling
  • Pakhangba Cheng-hongba #1 : Gallery
  • Repeal AFSPA enacted on 22 May 1958
  • Future Hindu Culture of Meitei is magificient
  • Poumai Purul Paoki Fest : Gallery
  • AEgi KoHcY :: Seireng
  • 2019 HSLC Exam Toppers :: Gallery
  • HSLC Toppers share thoughts, aspirations
  • HSLC :: Top 25 Rank Holders
  • HSLC :: Subject Topper
  • HSLC :: Statistical Abstract
  • HSLC :: Full Roll No Listing
  • HSLC :: Compartmental
  • Mukna Kangjei Tournament : Gallery
  • Phayeng Koubru Haraoba #4 : Gallery
  • ELVEEGO : Top 10 Promising Companies
  • Hr Sec Exam 2019 Toppers #2: Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2019 #2: Gallery
  • Purnima Moirangthem : 5th in Commerce
  • Jiribam Bazaar :: 360 Panorama View
  • Thailand Princess @Kangla #2 :: Gallery
  • Kadigampou, Akeng :: eMing
  • Ningombam Tampha :: 3rd in ISC Exam
  • Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #2 :: Gallery
  • M Diana: National Women Social Award
  • Urmila Shagolsem: Miss India 2019 Finalist
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download
  • SPONSORED ADS