Don’t Worry about Dying, Worry about Not Living
I have always been a fitness enthusiast. As a child I would go for bharatnatyam classes. I played throwball in school and college and I used to swim regularly. When I was pregnant with my first child, I was diagnosed with borderline gestational diabetes (high sugar levels in pregnancy). Since I was in London at the time, I was able to control my sugar levels with lots of walking as is the norm in European countries and some diet changes. That way I didn’t gain too much weight either. But during my second pregnancy, my sugars shot up once again and I had to start taking insulin. As a result I put on almost 18 kgs. My mother is a diabetic, so after my delivery my diabetologist warned me to control my weight and sugar with regular diet and exercise or else run the risk of being a full blown type II diabetic.
That set off a cycle of preventive yearly physical check-ups with blood tests etc. and I tried to do some conscious dieting but my exhausting routine of managing two kids, my clinic, my home and commute was leaving me little energy to exercise regularly. I started going for on off zumba classes and doing some fledgling runs as a variety in the exercise routine. I did a 10k run at the Pune International marathon in 2013. I managed to lose almost my entire pregnancy weight and started training with Pune Running in the university in early 2015 with Sudhindra and Vikas.
With a few months of training I ran my first half marathon at NIO in July 2015.
Unfortunately in August 2015, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I underwent surgery and started chemotherapy sessions. Without a doubt this put a firm spoke in the wheels of my life but being a positive person by nature, I knew I could face the illness with my belief that science has progressed to such an extent that breast cancer is curable with a good survival rate. I am very lucky to have a huge support system in the form of my husband, family and friends who encouraged me to start light exercise in the form of walks in my society after 10 days of my surgery. My oncologist egged me to start running again but I was not confident if I had the energy for a marathon as chemotherapy is physically exhausting.
Around the second week after my first chemotherapy session, I made up my mind to start training for marathons again, but I was afraid I did not have the energy and now I had lost full range of movement in my right arm due to surgery coupled with a chemotherapy port that hurt with almost every lift of my arm. I started doing the mandatory stretching and realized my body had not forgotten the exercises and I could easily do them. Encouraged by this, I did my first 2k run after my diagnosis in mid September 2015. What an emotional high that was as memories of my post surgery came flooding back when I had to forego Satara Hill Marathon and I felt with cancer I would now have to let go of things I am passionate about and completely modify my lifestyle. I cried that day, for how unpredicatable life is and at times how hard but they were tears of relief too since I realized I could continue my passion of running, but I had to be strong mentally since your mind can dictate how your body reacts.
Around this time Dr. Mitali Upadhye, my fellow runner, a mind body healer, and Pinkathon ambassador suggested me to become a Pinkathon ambassador. I ran my first 5k Pinkathon with the Shero Squad of cancer survivors in November 2015. Mr. Milind Soman started the Pinkathon event to promote breast cancer awareness and I made a promotional video for it at the time. My story was subsequently featured in Pune Mirror where I spoke about how I feel a positive energy flowing through me when I run. Running also helped minimize the side effects of chemotherapy. Though I had joint pains and numbness in my fingers and toes, I could forget them when I was doing my strength training, running and zumba.
My tryst with running continues……..
I have continued running and training whenever I was well through these last 6 months of chemotherapy. I ran the 7k freedom run on 26th January 2016. I followed it up with my first 10k run after my diagnosis a day before my last chemotherapy session in early February 2016 with my husband Mandar Doiphode and Prakash Dumbre of Pune Running. It was an unreal experience as I was so unsure of myself, of whether I had the physical energy or the mental capacity to do a long run. In the end it turned out to be a combination of my positive thinking, inner strength and determination to beat the odds of dying due to cancer that ultimately charged my body with the endurance required for a long run.
My Pune Running buddies Vikas, Vinita, Pooja, Anupama, Maithili, Krutika, Prasad, Mahesh, Sunil Dani, Bhagwanji, Shibani, Sudhindra, Nikhil to name a few constantly motivate me. I still have to complete radiation therapy, but I have set myself the goal of doing 10k plus runs every Sunday so that I can do my first half marathon after my diagnosis with Vikas in the LSOM in March 2016.
My motto is “don’t worry about dying, worry about not living”.