Actress Manisha Koirala says she doesn’t mind the “cancer-survivor” label.
Koirala beat ovarian cancer and even penned a memoir titled ‘Healed: How Cancer Gave Me A New Life’.
“I had to comprehend what I had gone through and so do the people. Which is why I wrote the book. But after a while, people will resume talking about my acting and performance, instead of cancer,” Koirala, 49, said.
Born in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, Koirala is the granddaughter of Nepal’s 22nd Prime Minister Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala and made her Hindi film debut with the 1991 hit ‘Saudagar’. She went on to have a successful career in Bollywood with big hits like ‘Dil Se’ and ‘Bombay’, until 2012, when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
“Cancer diagnosis is a very lonely journey. I was facing death, but the grim outcome for my diagnosis for me, was death already,” she said adding that she was suddenly forced to realise that her approach life till then had been “rose-tinted” and “ungrateful”. In her book, she admits that her decadent lifestyle, replete with alcohol, was also responsible for her condition.
Koirala was a speaker at the two-day Himalayan Echoes: Kumaon Festival of Literature and Arts in Nainital on Sunday. In a session where she was in conversation with food historian Pushpesh Pant, the actress broke down recounting her painful journey out of cancer.
“I was faced with the question: Is that all to life? Is this it? And if this is it, what did I do with my 40 years?” she admitted with candour.
Sharing that she started introspecting upon her life and imagining herself as a cancer-free person, Koirala said she desperately wanted a second chance at life, and is almost a new person now.
Her motivation to write the book? Give a guiding light to people who might not have many success stories to get strength from. She said that the co-authored book drawing from the notes she had been keeping when she underwent treatment in the United States.
She also recounted how she took life one day at a time, and tried to be optimistic while faced with the disease. She has been cancer-free for over six years now, and spends considerable time spreading public awareness about the disease.
Since being cured, Koirala has appeared in films ‘Dear Maya’, ‘Sanju’, ‘Prasthanam’ and Netflix series ‘Lust Stories’, with a couple more films in the pipeline.
She’s also slated to make an appearance at the Sharjah International Book Fair, to be held from October 30 to November 9.