The second guest on Podcast MD by Ketto, Sanjukta Sharma, is a journalist and writer based in Mumbai. She is also an ovarian cancer survivor. She has worked in various publications including The Indian Express, Tehelka and the Mint. At the start of 2017, Sanjukta quit her full-time job after feeling overworked. Her tiredness was accompanied by bloating and other symptoms of cancer. Her brother, who is also a doctor asked her to undergo a CT scan as a precautionary measure. After undergoing a CT scan, her doctor found nodularity along the lining of her uterus. She had to undergo a removal surgery, but while performing the surgery, her doctor found that the tumor was malignant.
In Jan 2018, she finished her Chemotherapy sessions and was declared cancer-free. Sanjukta, an advocate of Mistletoe therapy, believes that letting go is vital for the healing journey. She says it’s essential to spend time with one’s self in order to heal. She also recommends dietary measures that help with the recovery process, which includes limiting the intake of refined sugar and carbs. She believes that timely gene testing can help take preventive measures against gene mutations which can lead to cancer. Having undergone a tough time during her treatment, she has many insights regarding what challenges cancer patients have to face during treatment and how to tackle them.
During her cancer treatment, Sanjukta also underwent a lot of mental turmoil, including emotional outbursts and complete breakdown. During this time, her husband was constantly there by her side to take care of her. Knowing that it was also hard for her husband and what he went through during the course of the treatment, Sanjukta recommends that caregivers should also go through counseling so they know how to manage such a stressful situation. Interestingly, Sanjukta thinks that Chemotherapy wasn’t the hardest part of her treatment as the medicines the doctor gave her took care of the side effects caused by Chemotherapy. Personally, Sanjukta believes that the market for cancer treatment is huge with therapies available to patients, and to avoid getting tangled in multiple things one should simply choose one or two therapies and stick with them. She recommends reading the book ‘Longevity Diet’ to make a positive change in lifestyle and live a healthy life.
Sanjukta believes that there is a lot of shame around cancer, especially for women who also end up losing their hair during treatment. Given how much taboo exists around cancer in India, Sanjukta believes that patients need to be empowered. She also thinks that Doctors need to explain more to their patients as to how the treatment will affect the patient. Additionally, she believes the doctors should also be more receptive to their patients’ suggestions as they are the ones having to deal with the side effects and pain. At a personal level, Sanjukta feels every patient should try to spend more time listening to what their body is trying to tell them. “You have to be gentle with yourself,” she says.
Link to Podcast: Episode 2
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