Once upon a time, there was a queen who lived happily in the kingdom of love. She danced in the garden of happiness with her three lovely children. She went on holidays to neighbouring kingdoms when Trivago offered deals. And she ate heartily at banquets (sometimes, she had to be told to stop). The king was a kind man. He loved her deeply, never forgot their anniversary and even did the dishes when the maid did not show up.
One day, while checking her royal Facebook page, she came across a breast-self-examination video. It caught her fancy.
‘Should I check myself?’ she mused.
Was it necessary? She did not have any history of breast cancer. She was only forty-two, and she did not smoke. And, she had wine only very occasionally. She worked out. Um, well, sometimes.
After some dithering, she decided to check herself. To her horror, she felt a tiny lump deep in her left breast. It was like a hard bead lodged inside. She was mortified. She rang the royal bell and summoned her lady-in-waiting.
‘Summon the royal physician’ she cried.
A message bearing the royal seal was dispatched with a messenger to the king who was out buying groceries. He dropped the potatoes and rushed to the palace to be by her side.
‘Why do you fear so, my love?’ he chided her.
‘It could be breast cancer!’
‘No, it’s not. But, if you are worried, we can get it tested when we are back from the royal holiday.’
He waved to dismiss the royal physician who had arrived. Like the physician had nothing to do other than being summoned and un-summoned.
The queen spent a day brooding. Was His Royal Highness, right? Should she stop worrying? Or, should she get it tested nonetheless? It was a restless night.
The next morning, as the royal parrot flew in to greet her ‘good morning’, she knew what she should do. One could not stay caged in fear. Not in the current times.
She summoned the royal physician once more and ordered him to prescribe tests. An ultrasound, and later, a mammogram confirmed she had breast cancer. A pall of sadness descended upon the palace. Everyone was quiet, including Arnab Goswami.
‘People, fear not. It is completely treatable. The queen will be fine. In these times, we cannot bury our heads and wish away cancer. We have to face it. Early diagnosis is the best way to fight it.’
In a year’s time, the queen was totally cured. Happy bells pealed. Banquets were organized. Shahrukh Khan was summoned to dance at the function. And, they all lived happily ever after.
Now, this is not my story. But, I got breast cancer too. This is not your story. But, you can get breast cancer too.
I was diagnosed with Stage II A, bifocal breast cancer a couple of years back. Just hearing the doctor say,
‘I am sorry, you have cancer’ broke me into a million pieces. Was I going to die? Would my husband marry an ‘innocent, convented divorcee?’ What would happen to my children? I was inconsolable.
‘You caught it early, you’ll be fine’, the doctor assured me.
And, after a mastectomy and grueling chemotherapy, I was.
Don’t let the word, cancer, scare you. Be vigilant, be alert. Workout. Stay fit. Quit smoking. Limit alcohol. And, if you feel weak, lethargic, see a rash, a wrinkled nipple or feel a lump in the breasts, summon the royal physician immediately. With the queen cured, he’s free these days.
Rachna Singh is a humour writer and the author of ‘Band, Baaja, Boys’, that was one of Indo-Asian News Agency’s top picks for 2016. She is an HR professional and has worked with Tata Motors, Infosys and Dell. She loves to dance to ‘Baby doll main sone di’ but needs to check on the office policy on that first.
The views expressed in the column are author’s own.
We request you to support our award-winning journalism by making a financial contribution towards our efforts. Your funds will ensure we can continue to bring you amazing stories of women, and the impact they are making and spotlight half the country's population because they deserve it.