No occasion is needed to celebrate a hero, yet it is apt to salute the courageous warriors of Breast Cancer during the Pink Month of October. Sunita Kewal is one such lady who soared past adversities through her extraordinary will & courage.Behind her infectious smile and charm lies an iron woman of incredible strength. Sunita is a loving wife, a mother of a beautiful teenage daughter, a woman armed with many talents and a participant of Food Shalla show. When I asked her to write about her culinary skills she was puzzled and asked ‘ How is it relevant to this article on my battle with cancer?” I told her “ Cancer does not define you, it’s your achievements and dreams that make you what you are. Beating cancer and being so inspirational are both your achievements.”
Read about her victorious battle against cancer. When we come across extraordinary fighters we understand how trivial our adversities are in comparison. Hopefully, some of us can learn to see life and its blessings and get inspired by Sunita’s story.
Please tell about your war against cancer.
My journey as a fighter began much before 2006 when I was detected with cancer. My daughter was only 5 years old when I had issues with my breast. I have had an extremely painful period since then. I had accepted that pain was a part of my life and a routine for my family to see me remaining sick. It was sometimes heartbreaking but I couldn’t do much about the situation. There was a point in my life when I used to get mocked by my friends. They would say “When are you feeling well do let us know.” I had in total 6 surgeries in the same breast with all sorts of medical experiments to cure myself till I finally landed with cancer, I was 38 years old when I was detected with Ductal Carcinoma. My life changed completely because I never thought I would be put on trial in this way. I came out as a fighter with the help and support of my family. I was not shattered with the fact that cancer got detected because I had always been battling with health issues over 10 years. What was bothering me was being alone without my daughter and my pet. I was with my mom in India and it was a challenge for me to have a smile on my face. No matter what I was feeling like inside I couldn’t see my family being sad seeing me suffer. I never ever broke down even once during this period.
How did you cope with it?
Yearly routine check-ups were always on my to do it list whenever we went for summer breaks. I was on a summer break with my daughter when during my yearly check-up the radiologist who examined me found something fishy and requested me to do further investigation. At first, I was very casual about it. Only when my mother insisted I should go for detailed investigation I did so just to clear her doubts that everything was alright with me. In my wildest dreams, I did not ever think I would be detected with cancer. It doesn’t run in my family.
What advice would you give other women?
I would urge all women to educate themselves to self-examinations monthly and yearly check-ups. Do not opt only for free screenings. Please go to special screening centers and get yourself examined with experienced radiologists. My tumor was only a mustard size and had the radiologist skipped seeing it I would have never ever been detected so early. Therefore specialized screening matters. Breast Cancer is fully curable if detected on time.
Many women after being detected think that’s the end of their life but it is not so. Self-acceptance and remaining positive is the key to fight this battle. Avoid negativity and negative thoughts from your life. There are no locks without keys. You should not have the fear of losing your hair because you can always replace it with a wig. You should have the fear of removing your breast because you can get a reconstruction done. It is very important to stay positive no matter what the circumstance.
Unfortunately, in our country, there is not much emphasis on the reconstruction of the breast or for purchasing wigs. Please counsel yourself properly before you decide to take any kind of treatments. Sometimes we don’t know the strength that we have inside us until we are put to test. Trust me living with your head held high and with dignity helps you fight half the battle.
Do you think any particular diet is advisable over the other?
Healthy eating and eating the right amount at right times are extremely vital. Some of the healthy eating habits include eating home cooked food, opting for organic over processed food. Adding a lot of leafy vegetables to our diet helps. For all those who eat non-veg opt for organic and not hormonally injected foods.
What lifestyle changes do you think we should bring about?
First of all eat right, eat home cooked and eat fresh don’t sort food or eat leftovers. Some form of exercise is a must. Exercise for at least 150 minutes a week. Engage yourself in some stress releasing activity. Don’t stress over anything because at the end of the day it’s only you who will have to pay the price for it and honestly it’s not worth it.
Let us know about your culinary journey.
Cooking has always been a passion for me I started cooking ever since I was only 6 years old I felt some kind of joy while I cooked. It gives me too much pleasure when I see my family enjoying the food I cook. There are many occasions where my daughter’s friends calling me up and requesting to prepare something. All this gives me immense pleasure. My biggest food critics are my husband and daughter. They always encouraged me to take part in cooking competitions but I never had the courage to do so until this year in 2017. In 2017 I participated in a TV show (Foodshala). I didn’t win the show but I won many hearts. The show gave me a lot in return. I could not thank my Husband and the entire team of Foodshala enough.
What are your dreams at this point and future plans?
After the TV Show (Foodshala) I started looking beyond my small kitchen. I learned a lot from the show and still, I am in learning to excel my cooking abilities. I hope to open up a restaurant one day.