• Police officer Soma Hela from Titagarh is into physically challenging activities, such as horse-riding and rock-climbing after staving off breast cancer.
• Polly Sen went into depression during breast cancer treatment, but came out of it and started a home delivery unit, where other women now find employment.
Soma Hela and Polly Sen are among hundreds of women who have been able to conquer cancer and come out as stronger persons with the assistance of the 360-degree treatment available for the perilous disease under one umbrella at Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals, Kolkata.
As Apollo, on Tuesday, commemorated October as ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’, four such women came out and spoke about their journey of overcoming this debilitating disease, so that other women, who suddenly have to face the news that they have this form of cancer, can take heart and prepare for the battle ahead.
Oncologists present on the occasion emphasised the importance of early detection of breast cancer that gives one tactical advantage during treatment and results in a better outcome following treatment. They also put an accent on regular self-examination to identify the telltale signs of the disease, as one in eight women is susceptible to it and one in 22 actually gets it, pointing to at a very high incidence among the population.
According to Dr Suchanda Goswami, consultant radiation oncologist, Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals Ltd (AGHL), cases of breast cancer are on the rise because of the growing trend of late marriage, leading to delayed childbirth, in tandem with the tendency to avoid or discontinue breastfeeding, especially among urban women.
‘Late detection creates complications’
‘Late detection of breast cancer is something that makes the treatment more complicated and difficult for patients and is a direct result of the tendency of Indian women to suppress their discomfort and ailments for smooth running of the household. In the long-run, however, the effect is just the opposite’
— Dr Suchanda Goswami, consultant radiation oncologist, AGHL
Breast cancer survivors, too, spoke of the importance of early detection of the disease, which translated into a certain advantage for some of them in their fight and allowed them to return to normal life quicker than would otherwise be possible.
‘Apollo’s success: All treatment modes under one roof’
‘The good outcome in oncology at Apollo Gleneagles is possible owing to all the modalities of treatment — surgical, radiation and medical oncology — being available under one roof, in addition to psychological counselling and rehabilitation facilities. The hospital is also in the process of starting a ‘Pink Clinic’ that would see the addition of world-class Artificial Intelligence-based equipment for detection of breast cancer and determining the correct mode of treatment’
— Dr Suvadip Chakrabarti, consultant surgical oncologist
Winning against the dreadful disease
Soma Hela, who had been a part of the security team of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, has been able to garner enough courage to continue her outdoor duties that now include horse-riding and rock-climbing as she is a coach at the Police Training School. Polly Sen faced a second huddle after coming out of depression and starting her food delivery business because of hair loss that had prevented her from participating in a local food festival.
Also present on the occasion were Sova Das, who overcame the double whammy of her husband and she being detected with the cancer together, but showed the grit to come back and run the 5K distance category in a marathon last year; and freelance journalist Nandini Acharyya, detected as suffering from an advanced stage of breast cancer. Acharyya underwent surgery and went on to cover an international film festival while taking radiation therapy and has continued zealous fiction and non-fiction writing undeterred.