This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Kritika Kamthan. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

I Survived Cancer, And It Helped Me Come Back With A Bang

More from Kritika Kamthan

By Kritika Kamthan:

featured_image_-_survivor_v2It was a balmy August afternoon. Sitting in a posh New Delhi hospital my mind was dizzy with surreal memories the hospital evoked in me – frenzied doctors and nurses, intimidating operation theatres, and innumerable blood tests. I had never fallen sick before but while I waited to collect my biopsy report, I knew in my heart what my surgeon was about to confirm.

Dr. A (my surgeon) is a silver-haired, round-faced gentleman with a hearty laugh and a kind heart. As I watched him ponder over my report in mighty seriousness, I wondered what he might be thinking. Perhaps he was wondering how to break the news to me – news that the coming few months would take a deep toll on me and my loved ones. It was cancer. Thyroid cancer.

All hell broke loose when my family and friends got to know about this development. After the initial shock and grief, the resolve to see this through set in. Word spread and people began visiting in hordes – some acted almost as if I was on my death bed. Whilst some gossiped in kitty party groups others were genuinely disturbed. I consoled all of them. It is funny how sometimes you can ignore all the drama and derive strength from an unknown source – a strength which not only helps you stand steady but also enables you to motivate yourself.

Cancer became my everyday reality. I braved two surgeries followed by ‘therapy’. Random thoughts erupted every now and then – maybe this was my body telling me to take a break; maybe it is time to wrap up in a cocoon for a while and lie low. There existed the physical challenge of fighting cancer and then came the mental one. I started to experience extreme mood swings; forgetfulness became the norm of the day; irritation; hair fall; weight gain; all attacked me together. I thought I was falling into an abyss with no way to escape the darkness. The darkness surrounded me and my heart. I lost all hopes of making it back onto my career trajectory, which, before the diagnosis, was on a fast track. I wondered about tomorrow.

When my friends forced me to visit a psychotherapist, I was officially declared “depressed” in my first session with her. I cried for two successive days. Despite a dozen sessions, my condition did not improve and I eventually stopped visiting the counsellor. It seemed like life had ended. Two of the most stigmatised words had made an entry into my life – cancer and depression. Was I really depressed? What would people say and think? Would I have a career again?

People say that when nothing works for a man, he turns to God. Well, I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in energies. I made small changes in my life – living each day slowly. As the physical challenges began to vanish I sought to get my spirit in order. I found solace in meditation, sought to stay positive at all times, practised gratitude among many other things on a daily basis. I eventually began to find joy in small things. I became content with whatever little I had.

Of course, it took heaps of time and effort to introduce these changes in my thought process. I had the immeasurable support of my family who never lost faith in me. In retrospect, I think I learnt some very crucial lessons in life. The word cancer doesn’t mean death. It can be cured. The earlier it is diagnosed the better. The fight is both physical and mental. The latter has to be fought by you – others can help but it’s your battle.

Similarly, depression is not the end of the world. You have to start by accepting that you are depressed. Most importantly, you have to ask for help. We are human, we aren’t self-sufficient. Crying helps, but what helps most is talking especially with friends and family. Communication is pivotal, people help when they know what you seek. So, never suppress emotions – anger, love, hatred and especially pain. They need to be expressed, else your body is impacted and the suppression manifests into diseases.

Those who judge can’t help. My toughest times proved who is a friend and who isn’t. The truest friends stood by me while others scuttled away. It is significant to let go of people and situations because at the end of the day it’s a game of energies. What you think, is what you attract, is what you manifest. Rise above negative energies, situations and people who pull you down. Think positive.

Cancer made me believe that what is epic to the heart is ordinary to the mouth. It may read preachy but today I am reaping the benefits of cancer. I am a livewire again; I got an incredible job. I learnt the essence of my existence, overcame self-destructive thoughts and gained confidence again. Traumatic phases bring the best out in everybody. I survived cancer and it helped me come back with a bang. Thank you, cancer!

You must be to comment.
  1. Minhazz Majumdar

    Hi – your article is super is everything that you have written about – I know because I am going through the treatment myself – super article

  2. PC

    Awesome and outstanding. Really appreciate the zeal and determination to fight the 2 traumatizing words in medical world!!!! Hope this motivates thise who need it the most.
    Way to go girl and enjoy every bit of what life has to offer. Take care and stay healthy…..

  3. Kritika Kamthan

    Hi Minhazz and PC, thank you for your encouraging words. Really appreciate it. @Minhazz: Just don’t lose hope. I know it is easier said than done, yet I would urge you to stay positive at all times. Sending you strength. Have a speedy recovery!

More from Kritika Kamthan

Similar Posts

By Poonam Singh

By Ajay Amitabh Suman

By Afzal Rabbani

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below