By Lakhram Bhagirat
One of the most beautiful and equally scariest things about life is its unpredictability. The unpredictability of life is such that we never know what is coming next so it behoves us to not get too comfortable. It behoves us to not take things for granted, so we can be ready for every curveball that unpredictability brings.
Despite being told to be prepared always, Zalina Singh never thought that she would have been hearing the word “cancer” associated with her name in her lifetime.
It all started one July morning while Zalina was in the shower. As she was washing, a breast self-examination revealed a lump in her left breast, but as most women do, she took it as not something to be serious about.
“I saw this lump on my left side breast and I didn’t do anything about it until a week after. Mind you, I work with Banks DIH, and I went to talk to our Industrial Nurse and she referred me to the Oncology Department at the Georgetown Public Hospital,” she said.
“They examined me there and sent me to do a fine needle biopsy and that result came back inconclusive and then they sent me to another biopsy and when that results came back, it concluded that I had stage two breast cancer. They told me at that time that the only solution was to remove my breast,” Zalina added.
However, she was not entirely sold on the idea of removing her breast so she asked her doctors to allow her some time before the surgery could have been done. Zalina went back to work and discussed her diagnosis with some co-workers who advised a second opinion before any drastic steps were taken. So, in November of 2017, she travelled to the United States of America and restarted all her tests. In the end, it led to the same diagnosis – stage two breast cancer.
However, the only difference this time was that she did not need to have her breast removed. The doctors in the USA advised that since it was just stage two, Zalina could have got her cancer treated with chemotherapy and radiation. She received 18 sessions of chemotherapy and 15 sessions of radiation.
Good news came for her in August of 2018 when she was declared cancer-free. However, for her, the road to recovery was not an easy one.
“The road was not an easy one. Cancer makes you value life more and you don’t take things for granted anymore, because tomorrow is not a promise. I was okay one day and all it was was just a lump. Cancer was nowhere in my mind and to be told that I have cancer was life-changing. I was numb at that moment when the doctor told me that I have cancer and I just started to cry.”
Cancer not only took part of her, it also affected her mental health. While receiving chemotherapy treatment, Zalina would go on to have anxiety attacks and for her, they were really bad.
“It is a struggle every day, because your body is never 100 per cent after treatment. It is a continued fight,” the mother of two said.
For Zalina, the journey could have been harder, but the unwavering support of her family and those around her made it much easier. For that, she remains thankful.
“My advice to people out there is to listen to your body. If I had left that lump there, I could have grown more and progressed. You feel something, go to the doctor and get yourself checked out. Don’t wait. Don’t assume anything. When you are diagnosed with cancer, people think it is a stigma. It is not the end of the world; you just have to be prepared to fight. You have to be positive always; support is important.”