Dilpreet Kaur Dua
Breast Cancer Survivor
5 years ago, after the birth of my daughter, I was undergoing a phase of continuous stress, fatigue and post-partum anxiety. When she turned 6 months old, I started feeling a lump in my left breast which at the time was thought to be a blocked duct or an infection. But as it turned out, it was a large tumour.
After a lot of checkups and tests and a painful FNAC (Fine Needle Aspiration) Biopsy, it was determined that it was Stage 3a IDC ( Invasive Ductal Carcinoma ) and Triple-Negative Breast Cancer which is a subtype and a more aggressive form of Breast Cancer.
I was also diagnosed with being BrCa 1 positive the same year which is a genetic marker putting me at higher risk of ovarian and breast cancer.
I began my fight on the 9th of December, 2015 and got operated on. I had staple pins on my thighs from where they had used muscle for grafting and created two new breasts. I had four tubes stitched onto my skin to remove excess fluid.
After 2 weeks, I flew back to Delhi to be with my children who had been generous, loving and just so patient this entire time.
Towards the second week of Jan, we realised that the body was not healing at the required rate and this delayed my chemo sessions. So we decided to remove the left breast and begin chemotherapy.
Friday I got operated on, Saturday I took my first chemo and Sunday I flew back to Mumbai. Following the 16 Chemo sessions, I had 25 days of radiation which were tolerable. By the time this was all coming to an end, an entire year had passed and I had spent the year getting poked, in pain, sleeping, watching movies and packing my son off to his first year of school.
All along, my husband supported and guided me through it all. I realised then that I had been more active and present with my kids than I could've ever been. I had lived life every moment hoping to get better.
Before I got sick, I had become complacent - I did not take care of my eating habits. I was doing zero exercises and the rest was virtually non-existent. My body was crying for help and I would forego the signs until I could not ignore them anymore.
My learnings now are simple - Look after yourself! As women, we tend to ignore ourselves and focus on everybody else but the truth lies in knowing that "How will we take care of others if we don’t manage to take care of ourselves?"
Recreated by Maryam Syed