Writer-director Tahira Kashyap Khurranan; was detected with pre-invasive breast cancer last year, but she didn’t let that define her. She has urged those affected by cancer to follow suit as she feels they are “bigger than the disease”.
Back in September 2018, she shared an unexpected news with her thousands of followers on Instagram that she was detected with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) in her right breast with high grade malignant cells.
Initially, she was not ready to share it with the world. A few visits to the hospital, meeting other patients, talking about cancer and researching about it, made her change her mind.
“No one in my immediate environment judged me. Of course, I was also asked by a couple of my close relatives… they said that the news should remain within the confines of a family circle. I thought that maybe that’s the right protocol,” Tahira told IANS over phone.
“On the other hand, my doctor told me about so many cases… women who despite getting a few symptoms refuse to get themselves examined because of so much of humiliation associated with it. Some even feel guilty,” she shared.
That left her shocked.
“Every patient should get support from family and then workplace,” she said.
That’s when she started sharing positive messages and creating awareness about cancer on social media.
“My basic has always been… creating awareness about early breast cancer detection and self love. If you are suffering from cancer, do not let it define you. You are bigger than the disease. Be the stronger person that you always have been.
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❤️🙏 … Repost from @officialhumansofbombay – “I was a closeted writer, afraid to explore her passion. I’d studied biotechnology & then mass communication.When I moved to Mumbai I worked as a professor & even in PR & radio. In my heart I wanted to write & make films. But I didn’t want to be an actor’s wife doing things on a whim. So I hustled in the day but cried at night. It continued until I came across Nicherin’s Buddhism–a philosophy that gave me wings to fly! It was tough but it didn’t seem impossible anymore. I started writing & even made a short film! I remember my film made it to a film festival in Taiwan. So I went there with my husband & at the airport, as usual we were looking for someone standing with my husbands name. But he took my hand & pointed at a man holding a placard that said ‘Tahira Kashyap’. I had finally found my own identity! Just when things were good, life threw a curveball at me. One of my breasts had started feeling heavier & there was some secretion. So I went to the gynecologist, who after an ultrasound suggested I meet an oncologist. I got more tests done & in a few days I went from being under a 2% risk to having stage 0 Breast cancer. I underwent a 6 hour long surgery, where they removed & reconstructed my breast. But it wasn’t over–after one pending biopsy report, we realised that I was at stage 1 cancer. I’d to undergo 12 sessions of chemotherapy. It took a toll on my body & I started losing my hair. But that didn’t stop me. Everyday I went to office, I told myself that this doesn’t define or weaken me. My faith helped me embrace it. I went bald, I even posted pictures of my scar–it was my badge of honour. I remember my 7 year old son was embarrassed because I was bald. He told me not to come in front of his friends. But I didn’t want that. So I went & met all his friends, they gaped for a bit, but were normal later. I think I redefined ‘normal’ & ‘beautiful’ for my son that day. I am happy & full of gratitude. I am determined to spread awareness about early detection of breast cancer & follow my passion by overcoming any curve balls thrown my way. I’ve made it my mission to love myself & to live”
“I wanted to remove the stigma and taboo associated with cancer. No matter what life throws at you, take it in your stride and have immense love for yourself because it is you who is putting up the fight and you are no less than a warrior,” said Tahira.
Ahead of National Cancer Survivors’ Day, which falls on June 2, the wife of actor Ayushmann Khurrana is reiterating it in a video called “Birthmarks” by Culture Machine’s channel Blush.
“There is a picture that I had posted on Instagram on World Cancer Day. It (the video) is played on that,” she said referring to her shirtless photo in which she is seen embracing her scar.
As of now, she is in “pink of my health”.
“I am doing pretty good. Of course I had chemotherapy which has side effects…it can be endless, but I don’t want to acknowledge them. I am concentrating more on what all I can do,” she said.
Getting back to work is one of them. She just directed a music video, featuring her brother-in-law Aparshakti Khurana. There is also a film in the pipeline. It’s been quite delayed though.
“I have to make it and I will be making the film very soon. We are still in the process of putting everything together,” said Tahira.
“It’s a film about five women belonging to different age groups…what all quirky issues they face in their life and how they deal with them. It is a fun, quirky, slice of life, happy film,” she added.