Ushaben Shukla

“It’s been five years this month that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I found a lump on my breast and had a mammogram in April, 2004. The first week of May I had a biopsy. I prayed very hard that weekend that the pathologist would find the lump was benign. My surgeon called and told me that it was cancer. God doesn’t always answer prayers the way we want Him to.

Strangely, breast cancer is not like other diseases in which you feel sick and go to the doctor who makes you feel better. With breast cancer, usually you feel fine, then you find a lump and start to worry. By the time you visit the doctor, you are scared of what he or she will say is wrong with you and what you are going to have to do about it. Then you have the biopsy and either are immensely relieved that the lump was benign or you are devastated by the news that you are one of the one in thirty women in India who do have Breast Cancer. Usually you still feel pretty well physically, but emotionally you are a wreck because you dread the additional breast surgery, the radiation and chemotherapy, the uncertainty of the long-term prognosis, and the change in your body image from being a “whole woman” to having just one breast and being bald while undergoing chemotherapy. You go from being a healthy, happy individual to a patient who has to undergo all kinds of blood tests, scans, procedures, and consultations with specialists.

“There are difficult decisions to be made about types of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and follow-up medications. All of this can be overwhelming if you do not have faith in God that everything happens for the best. I believe that my bout with breast cancer would have been much harder to bear if I had not had the prayers and moral support of so many family members, friends and my doctors.

“In some ways breast cancer is harder on the family members too as it is on the patient. They feel so helpless. Fortunately, my family responded in a very caring way. They were with me during every one of my consultations and stayed with me until I was taken for my surgeries. They drove me to the clinic to receive chemotherapy treatments. I think their strong faith in God helped them to care for and encourage me. My family grew closer as we corresponded about my treatments.

I am also very fortunate to be treated by Dr. Chirag Shah and his team. His immense support is always a boost to your moral. God does work in mysterious ways. It took a serious brush with death to make me fully appreciate life.