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.

Vikas: I remember very well Mandar and Manisha joining our Training Program of 0-21K . Will we had a large number of runners, there were only a handful who were consistent. Manisha was one of them. She had an amazing passion and knack for running.

Mandar and Manisha at the Pune Univ with the Pune Running Gang

With a few months of training I ran my first half marathon at NIO in July 2015.

NIO Timings for Manisha

Devastating news……..

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.

Manisha with her rockstar husband Mandar

Vikas: It is crazy what Manisha was going through and the way she was coping with it. She told me that the WhatsApp group of Pune Running had become her lifeline as she was energised by the sheer enthusiasm in the group. It motivated her to keep running even against all odds. I remember in my talks with Manisha, her telling me that the biggest challenge with people in this state was they get into a state of self pity. They stop going out, meeting people and generally start staying at home. This leads to depression and a negative cycle so dramatic that they are never able to come out of it. I cannot imagine the courage required to be able to still come out and run with the thought of cancer troubling you every second.

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.

Manisha with the amazing Milind Soman

Dr Mitali with Milind Soman

Vikas: Dr Mitali with Milind Soman. Dr Mitali is the Mind and Body healer which Manisha talks about. Dr Mitali has runs regularly with the Pune Running Group and the Pinkathon Group. She has been instrumental in helping many people get cured of Cancer and has been actively promoting a fit and healthy lifestyle. Write about her in the Golden Sparrow – Cancer can be overcome

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.

Manisha after the Pinkathon 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”.

Vikas: Guys we are all planning to run with Manisha in the March LSOM on 27th March. If you would like to run with us on 27th March drop a comment and we will connect with you or visit the Pune Running facebook page

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24 Responses

  1. Rajesh Patil says:

    Inspirational story indeed. Wish you the best & looking forward to ur half marathon. Kudos to Mandar for being the inspiration & support.

  2. Chaitali Shejul says:

    Hats off manisha…

  3. Prakash says:

    What a inspirational story. Hats off Manisha.
    Your fight against all odds wasn’t possible without strong determination which you have.!
    We all from Pune Running are there to help you & run along with you. Just call us. Appreciate Mandar for his support & care throughout. He keeps thinking & talking about you Manisha even when you aren’t there for run. Keep it going.

  4. Sudhi says:

    Manisha, you are an example of amazing courage. Hats off!

  5. Sandeep Kulkarni says:

    You inspire us Manisha.. hats off. No words to describe the spirit you shown to bounce back.
    All the the best.

  6. Rahul Gadikar says:

    Amazing and inspiring story….Hats off to you Manisha…….All the very best for all future marathons you plan to participate in….

  7. Aditi kulkarni says:

    Hats off to you Manisha… Indeed so so inspiring. Amazingly positive… You have inspired me. Terrific!!

  8. Nita says:

    Amazing Manisha. I had no clue.
    I will run with you in March. Yes, 21k with Manisha.

  9. Siva says:

    You are an amazing woman, Manisha.. People lose hope and wallow in self pity with 1/1000th of your challenge in life. I love your punchline in the end.. Am going to remember and follow it whenever I down. Thanks for sharing your story.

  10. Omkar says:

    Proud to be knowong you Manisha. Take a Bow!

  11. vidya says:

    Manisha hats off to u for ur amazing courage and persistencein keeping on running despite all odds.of course in going to run wit u on 27th mar.u inspire all of us

  12. Hatts of to you manisha mam…you are really brave and inspiring, positive person…in your company feels pune university I came across with you many times and I have seen you energetic as always..once againhatts off to you

  13. shibani says:

    Manisha u r a true hero!!! I could feel every word as i was reading… u are a fighter n a winner… can i pls hv the honour of running with you on 27th ☺☺

  14. Neeraj says:

    Manisha – Very inspirational. Will be looking forward to run LSoM on 27th

  15. Omprakash Shingare says:

    It is inspiring to me and feeling energised.? Hats off to you Manisha… You are amazingly positive… You have inspired many. . . All the best ??

  16. Paresh Bhave says:

    Hats off ,truly inspirational .It would be a privilege to run along with you on 27th March and look forward to your HM ..cheers

  17. rashmi.patil says:

    Hi Manisha well ur really an amazin strong person…hats off to u & ur spirit….i myself being very health conscious know what positive wonders execise does to our mind….just keep goin…God Bless u!
    Ur BVP friend….rashmi.salgia.

  18. Chitra says:

    Your story is so inspirational Manisha thanks for sharing Meghna just loved your line : Dont worry about dying, worry about not living….hats off to you!!!

  19. krutika shukla says:

    hey Manisha, u r such an amazing person , hats off to ur courage & cheerful attitude towards life.

  20. Dr Amit says:

    This is an absolutely amazing journey.. Have seen you couple of time while running but never knew anything about you. Next time If I get a chance to see you I am going to bow down and salute to you as you are a champion and many patients going through similar phase can draw inspiration…. Hats off

  21. Suraj says:

    Really amazing personality you have, so very true you have mentioned about depression, keep running and enjoying your passion, you are truly a inspiration to all of us good luck

  22. R. jaishankar says:

    Admirable and inspiring. All the best. Aparna & Jaishankar

  23. Kaushal Kishore says:

    Manisha determination and zeal has made bolt enough to fight with any serious issue. Hats off you Manisha.

  24. Archana says:

    Hats off… Awesome…. sooo positive attitude…