Dubai: At 82, breast cancer survivor Suman Jayawant Khare is positive, disciplined and energetic, qualities that have kept her in remission for the last four years.
Khare, who hails from Bhopal in India, currently lives with her daughter Dr Maneesha Phadke’s family in Al Nahda. Dubai. She not only detected her breast cancer through self- examination, but was quick enough to get it addressed.
Recounting her experience, the grandmother said: “In June 2015, I was 78. I discovered that I was losing weight and had a small lump in my right breast. I immediately knew I had breast cancer. I lived in Bhopal, but wasted no time in requesting my daughter to take me to Delhi. There, at the oncology wing of the Medanta Hospital, a doctor put me through the mammogram and other hormonal tests and confirmed my worst fears. I had Stage II breast cancer. Luckily, my vigilance and quick action had prevented its spread to the lymph nodes and I consented to a lumpectomy.”
After lumpectomy, Khare underwent radiotherapy and was asked to visit the hospital once every three months. “I took the advice of the doctors very seriously and immediately changed my diet and lifestyle. I became very regular with yoga, pranayama (breathing techniques) and began taking walks as soon as I gained energy. I cut out oily and spicy food and took my medicines regularly.”
Khare’s efforts to recover amazed the doctors. “My mother’s perseverance and positive attitude towards battling the disease made her a role model for many cancer survivors at Medanta where doctors and nurses would call her to speak to other patients,” said Dr Phadke.
Eventually, visits to the hospital tapered off to twice yearly and then annually. Now Khare, who is on oral chemotherapy pills for a year, continues her health routine in Dubai. “I had severe itching issues with oral chemo which would not go away with anti-allergy pills. So I took homeopathic treatment. I have always been open to alternative therapies and was determined to conquer my cancer,” said Khare.
Sharing her secret of good health, she said. “I get up early in the morning, do my yoga and pranayama, then go for a 40-minute walk. At 8am, I have a light breakfast, then I go up to the gym at around 11am. Doing light weights and stretches helps keep my muscles in good tone and I feel very light. I have my lunch at 1pm and then at tea time, have a fruit and beverage. In the evening, I go for another 40-minute walk and have my dinner by 7.30pm. Before bedtime at 10pm, I do another round of breathing exercises.”
Stop fearing cancer, fight it!
Khare’s message to other women who may be battling cancer is straightforward. “I want other women to know that with vigilance, determination and the right diagnosis at the right time, cancer is curable. One must love oneself and approach the condition with tremendous positivity and optimism. These days, modern medicine has helped make battling cancer pain-free to a large extent. All one needs to do is give up the fear of cancer. Be disciplined and consistent in your lifestyle and take your medicines regularly. Follow your doctor’s instructions and never give up on yourself. Like me, most women can beat cancer.”
Breast cancer month
The month of October is globally recognised and observed as the Breast Cancer Awareness month. One in five men and one in six women worldwide develop cancer during their lifetime. According to a report provided by the World Health Organisation, breast cancer topped the total 4,707 new cancer cases that were found in the UAE in 2018, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
Despite such high numbers, early detection is the key to curing the diseases and self-examination after the age of 30 (for those with a genetic history) and the age of 40 for all other women, remains the most powerful first tool that women can avail if they are educated and aware of the disease. Mammography is the next step for screening and many hospitals offer free screenings throughout UAE during October.