39 year old Suvarna Panchal from Chembur, Mumbai worked at a travel agency for a while until she was diagnosed with cancer, three months after her wedding. Having seen the effect cancer can have on a person through her mother, she was initially taken over by fear and had given up hope of living. However her husband and her in laws were very supportive and stood by her in her time of illness. After fighting cancer for 2 and a half years, she was declared cancer free and now visits the hospital for her follow ups.
At this time, her friend told about the good work done by Sanjeevani and about their Oncological Care Giving course conducted at TISS. The course structure piqued Suvarna’s interest. She was further encouraged by her family to get back to studying. “Every session and lecture during the course were of great help,” she says, “whether it was on Yoga, Nutrition, Counselling and knowing about the illness. It was like expanding the mind’s horizons and allowing yourself to become a more resourceful person. From knowing nothing about the illness to learning all that she did and studying about it has been a great transformation for her.
She also talks about making good friends here that she still is in touch with. Suvarna also talks about feeling a sense of purpose and finding a liking for the new confident self that she’s turned into. "After joining the course, I never once felt like I am a cancer patient or ever was because I have inculcated positive thoughts in me. Even the patients that I interacted with didn't believe me when I told them that once I was a cancer patient too”. Because of the course, she says she is mentally stronger as an individual now and should any trouble befall her, she is sure of overcoming it.
She advises “One should not be bogged down due to the illness but rather adopt a positive approach and listen to your doctor as cancer doesn't mean the end of life, but rather an obstacle which can be overcome. She talks about how Sanjeevani has been a good platform where she could realise her abilities and worth. Suvarna is now looking out for a good opportunity in care giving so that she can teach others what she learned during the course and bust myths about cancer.