As per India Against Cancer, an estimated 2.5 million people are currently living with cancer in India. While cancer is detected in over seven lakh new people every year in the country, around 5.56 lakh die due to cancer annually. Cancer, for long, has been a disease, which is dreaded my many. Though the medical advancement has increased the rate of survival among cancer patients, the treatment often leaves a lifelong impact on an individual and on the entire family. Fighting with cancer is certainly not easy but there are some people who not only fight and defeat the life threatening disease, but also become an inspiration for other cancer patients in the process. They are also an inspiration for people who get bogged down by problems in their lives. Nation Next, in its new series #ConqueringCancer, will tell you about such people who have not only won over cancer but have also turned their lives around completely!
In the first story under #ConqueringCancer, Nation Next speaks to Ritika Kothari, who is a cancer survivor. Ritika who battled with cancer for a couple of years, today manages the lifestyle design store Casa Quirky in Nagpur. Ritika, who’s now settled in Mumbai, in an interview speaks about her fight against cancer, the troubles she went through and tells us how cancer changed her perspective towards life.
How and when did you come to know that you were suffering from cancer? How did it impact your mind and life?
In November 2014, I felt some pain in my neck. When I consulted the doctor, he told me that it was just neck sprain. Somehow, I felt that there was more to it than just neck sprain. So, I showed it to my mother who is a cancer specialist. She discovered lumps on my neck and immediately called a doctor, who then did a FNAC (Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology), which is generally used to diagnose tuberculosis. The doctor after that asked us to do a FNAC again. It was then that I felt that may be it was something graver than tuberculosis. One day, while I was out, my mother called me up and asked me to come home immediately. When I reached home, I saw all my family members hooked to Google, which I found very strange. They sat me down and told me that I was suffering from Hodgkins Lymphoma (Cancer of the Lymphatic system, which is part of human’s immune system), Stage III.
Initially I just laughed it off. When I goggled about the disease myself, I was suddenly at loss of words. I couldn’t believe I had cancer. I was scared and I couldn’t sleep for many nights. The fact that I would have to undergo an extensive treatment including chemotherapy in just another ten days disturbed me. I’m an extremely outgoing and social person. So it was difficult for me, when I was asked not to go out often because I was now prone to infections. Cancer also affected my career. I was teaching somewhere when I was diagnosed with cancer. I had to quit my job because of my disease. Even after my complete treatment, I could not work as much as I used to before.
Deaths the only thing, which comes to a persons mind when he comes to know that hes suffering from cancer?
Yes. Even I thought I was going to die. I was very scared. But, eventually I managed to overcome my fear of the disease.
Having come to know of it all of a sudden, how did you prepare yourself for the fight against cancer? How hard was it to come to terms with it?
For a month, it was very chaotic. I couldn’t sleep at all. I would Google things a lot. I was in a very negative phase of my life. I would often question myself, Why me?? But then, eventually, I came to terms with my condition. I stopped thinking that I was going to die and braced myself for the fight with cancer. It wasn’t easy. It was acceptance that this is going to be my life for a couple of years is what helped me come to terms with cancer. I asked everybody around me; my friends and my family to be as normal as possible as I knew that it was only normalcy, which would help me in the difficult time I was going through.
Cancer treatment involves a lot of complex and difficult methods like Chemotherapy, which takes a toll on a person not just physically and emotionally but also financially. Can you please describe the struggle you went through during your treatment?
Once, I got into the cycle of chemotherapy, which was extensive and tiring, I couldn’t even get up from my bed for most of the days. I had to take treatment after every 15 days and its side effects would last for seven-eight days. So, I had very few good days left to myself in a month. In those good days, I could talk, walk around freely and do other things. To forget the pain, I would sometimes watch the US sitcom ‘Friends,’ read positive books and meditate. These things would help me stay positive.
When you go through such a treatment, you are bound to face not only physical pain but also emotional pain. For a woman, it is very traumatic to lose her hair. There were other side effects too. I faced neuropathy (malfunction of nerves), my eyes got weak, which would not allow me to watch television for a long time and I couldn’t read much. Another major side effect was hallucination. Fortunately, as both of my parents are affluent doctors, we didn’t face any problem financially.
When you lost your hair post chemotherapy, you faced the situation bravely and went through a transformation with the help of a stylist. What inspired you to do that?
I was always very possessive about my hair. Before cancer, I had beautiful straight hair and I would often go to my stylist and style them up. But, when I started losing my hair because of the treatment, I went to my stylist and got them removed entirely!
For some time, my hair did not grow on one side of my head due to the side effects of chemotherapy. My stylist helped me by covering that up with different hair styles. I wore a wig for some months, which I got it designed by another stylist friend of mine. I would wear the wig at business meetings as I wanted to feel normal and did not want anybody to know about my treatment. I also did not want to mix my personal and professional life. Also, I didn’t want them to judge me on the basis of my problem.
How important a role did your family play during your cancer treatment?
My family played a very important role during my fight with cancer. When you have a disease like cancer, you cannot go out often as your immunity is very low. You cannot be exposed to too many people as there is always a danger of contracting infection. The first thing I told my family was to get back to their normal routine. That in turn helped me get back to my normal routine. I asked them not to be around me all the time or give me sympathy because it would make me remember that something is wrong with me. I think family support is must when you’re dealing with any disease. It would have been impossible for me to fight cancer without the support of my family.
How did cancer change your perspective towards life?
Before cancer, I was just like any normal person running behind things like money, career, love, etc. After I was detected with cancer, I got the time to sit down and think about things, which I actually wanted in life. Cancer made me introspect a lot. When I had cancer and I was not allowed to go out often, I would sometimes, go out for short drives in an air conditioned vehicle. The only place I was allowed to go to was at my best friends house. We would just sit, paint and talk random things. Cancer made me realize that I would have never done this in my normal regular life. Now, I do things, which actually make me happy. Some time back, I felt that work was getting monotonous and I felt the need to explore more. So I took a break for a couple of months. That break gave me the idea of starting my video series and designing the House of Ritika. Now, I have started taking frequent breaks, which give me chance to introspect about my life and keep me happy.
Tell us more about House of Ritika.
After going through cancer, I realized that there are hardly any forums in India, which discuss real life issues of people. These days, people on social media post selfies and glamorous pictures. Such posts create a wrong impression on people about life. So, I thought of creating a platform – House of Ritika – where people can come and talk about their real life issues. These discussions are shot and form part of an online talk show known as – Reveal. The theme of Reveal is: People talking about unconventional things. The show consists of discussions with authors, musicians, cancer survivors, etc., about their actual problems. We are also planning to launch videos and blogs about mental health.
#ConqueringCancer is a series by Nation Next consisting of inspiring stories of cancer survivors. If you know a cancer survivor, whose story has the capacity to give others strength or if you’re a cancer survivor yourself, let us know at [email protected]/nation-next.
12-yr-old Nagpur boy dies after trying to imitate a deadly YouTube video
A 12-year-old boy named Agranya Barapatre in Nagpur breathed his last after trying to imitate a video on YouTube at his neighbour’s place. The woman, in the video, is seen demonstrating how she escaped with her hands tied behind, gagged and face covered with scarves. He was found hanging from a wooden ladder’s stick on the neighbour’s terrace but there was no knot on the scarf.
Upon inspection, it was learnt that Agranya had downloaded a video titled ‘Full face cover challenge’ in his phone. Cops said that there was no reason for the teenager to commit suicide but the possibility of an accident could not be ruled out.
Arangya’s mother said the couple had no clue where the scarf came from; he only carried a chakri and a kite. She also revealed that her son usually played on their neighbour’s terrace
Reportedly, Agranya was undergoing a psychiatric treatment as he was a hyperactive kid who wasn’t attentive in studies. He was good with using phones and application so his family tried to keep the phone away from him. However, he would somehow always locate the phone.
Agranya, the only child to his parents, was supposed to be felicitated at his school on Thursday during Republic Day for securing second position at a double-lathi event at the third National Traditional Lathi Sports Championship in Indore.
Post the incident, he was rushed to Government Medical College but was declared dead. Sakkardara Police registered a case of accident death.
President’s Cup 2.0 kickstarts at DPS MIHAN in Nagpur
The second edition of the President’s Cup for Tennis Ball and Cricket was held in the sprawling campus of Delhi Public School (DPS MIHAN) on Friday, January 27. Gurudas Raut, a differently-abled international cricket player, captain of T20 World Cup 2019 and a recipient of many awards instituted by BCCI, ICC and VCA graced the occasion as Chief Guest and inaugurated the event. Janak Shahu, Secretary, Physically Challenged Cricket Association was also present on this occasion.
Nidhi Yadav Principal at DPS MIHAN welcomed the guests by presenting saplings, which is the tradition of the school. In her welcome address, she highlighted the vision of President and Pro Vice Chairperson Tulika Kedia who ensures the best of sporting facilities are provided to the students for holistic education and for psycho- socio development.
She also thanked the Director Savita Jaiswal for her constant guidance and support. She expressed her gratitude for the benign presence of Raut to motivate the young players befitting to the occasion. She emphasized that he is a perfect role model for the budding cricketers.
Raut in his speech, appreciated the sporting facilities and encouragement given by the school for the development of sporting culture amongst the students. He emphasized that one should explore opportunities and believe in oneself to achieve one’s goal. He mentioned that with will power he could pursue cricket and achieve laurels at national and international level inspite of his limitations.
In this edition, six teams are competing for the coveted President’s Cup. The finals will be held on Monday 30th January 2023.
Naatu Naatu composer MM Keeravani is a great musician; just that he’s underrated: AR Rahman
SS Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’ has been making news for the past few weeks. Be it winning Golden Globe for the song ‘Naatu Naatu’ or being nominated for Oscars 2023, composer MM Keeravani is a national name now. The Oscar-Golden Globe-Grammy awards winner, AR Rahman said, spoke about MM Keeravani in a recent interview.
Expressing that Keeravani is ‘underrated’, he said, “You know what? MM Keeravani is a great composer, it’s just that he’s underrated. And I’m not sure if it’s true, Keeravani wanted to quit music in 2015 and retire. In fact, that’s when his career had actually started. And everyone noticed it. I believe when someone thinks their life is over, that’s when your life starts. You just need to live. I even tell my kids the same, ‘that gentleman (Keeravani), who’s been in the industry for 35 years, wanted to quit so early when his career actually started at that point.”
This video of Rahman’s interview about Keeravani has been appreciated on social media. And many users have also praised him for his positive and inspirational statements. Moreover, Keeravani will be conferred with Padma Shri this year, who once thought of quitting and wanted to retire in 2015.