A Time-Table To Beat Cancer
Ernakulam Medical Centre Deputy Director and breast cancer survivor Chandni Ravi has created a sisterhood for women battling the diseaseBy Christina Tom Jose
Hers may not be a very familiar face to the people of Kerala, but the establishment founded by Chandni Ravi’s grandfather, the Ernakulam Medical Centre (EMC), is a pillar of support for many. After successfully beating cancer, this remarkable woman is adamant on helping others fighting the dreaded battle.
Finding a lump in your breast is a 35-year-old mother’s worst possible nightmare, agrees Chandni. “For days I was like a zombie,” she says. “I didn’t take it very well in the beginning. But I knew that this couldn’t continue and I felt I had to take some steps to regain my mental strength.” It has been a long battle for Chandni, not just with cancer, but with her own fears and apprehensions.
Fortunately for her, her two major sources of inspiration were always right beside her. The first was her own mother, in whose words she found refuge: “It is easy to dwell in self-pity. Always remember, self-pity is the path to self-destruction.” Her mother-in-law is a close second, always reminding her of the ‘unimaginable strength’ of the human mind. “They were the indeed the reasons for keeping their respective families together when they themselves went through tough times,” recalls a grateful Chandni. Chandni admits that resilience was not omnipresent through her journey. “It is truly human to feel low sometimes,” she says. “I had designed several channels, foreseeing these situations.” Chandni had her every week planned well ahead. She chose to keep herself occupied so that she had very little time to ponder over her condition. Her first tool was what she calls the gratefulness journal, a little book in which she jotted down everything she felt grateful for, right from the fact that she woke up alive every morning.
“THE WORK I DO IS DEDICATED TO MY GRANDFATHER, WHO WAS A GREAT LEADER, AND THE MANY PEOPLE WHO HAVE HELPED ME DURING MY JOURNEY. I WAS NOT PERSONALLY ABLE TO RETURN THE KINDNESS THAT WAS SHOWERED ON ME, AND I FEEL THAT THE HOSPITAL IS THE BEST WAY TO SERVE PEOPLE AND COMPLETE THE CIRCLE OF LIFE.”Chandni Ravi – Deputy Director, Ernakulam Medical Centre
She also wrote actively in her diary, especially putting down her negative feelings into writing. “Writing down your feelings has actually proven to reduce your negativity by more than 70 percent,” she explains.
Chandni worked out every single detail of her recovery. She began every day with intense meditation and chanting, followed by an alkaline diet, as it has a profound effect on mental health. For every day of the week, she had a different schedule; if Mondays were for yoga for the whole family, on Tuesdays, she targeted onco massage, which was based on the symptoms she faced in the past week. Wednesdays were reserved for treatment and Thursdays for acupuncture. The weekends were solely for family time.
Chandni worked out every single detail of her recovery. She began every day with intense meditation and chanting, followed by an alkaline diet, as it has a profound effect on mental health. For every day of the week, she had a different schedule. the weekends were solely for family.
“This period was basically my mission to bring out the best in me, living my life fruitfully and intentionally,” recalls Chandni.
Her efforts did not stop once she was out of the cancer radar. “The day I was declared cancer-free is the day I started the Pink Saree Sisters,” she says, of her online support group for Indian women who are battling cancer. In this forum, Chandni added all the people who supported her on her cancer journey, including her yoga instructor, a cancer dietitian for advice on an alkaline diet, and a psychologist to deal with mental health issues. “I have formed a space where women can freely express their views, ask about management of symptoms, forming a bond of sisterhood and comfort,” she says. Her idea of giving back does not stop there; she is now engaged in efforts to making state-of-the-art healthcare accessible to thousands, through her work at the EMC.
“The work I do is dedicated to my grandfather, who was a great leader, and the many people who have helped me during my journey,” says Chandni. “I was not personally able to return the kindness that was showered on me, and I feel that the hospital is the best way to serve people and complete the circle of life.” Besides being Deputy Director of EMC, Chandni is also an avid writer, artist, and food blogger.
Chandni is a story of a ferociously fought victory; she was not one to leave the reins of her recovery in the hands of doctors alone.
Even her words to cancer patients are to see cancer as a ‘stepping stone.’ She insists that as much as patients, the caregivers to need their own quota of care. “For caregivers, I believe it is a very difficult journey. It is important that you look after yourself, take regular breaks, do something that you like regularly, taking time off.”
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