Surviving cancer, a tale of hope: The fight back

(continued from “Final Confirmation”)

This was a turning point for me as I said to myself “I’m stronger than I realise” and from that day onwards I started to strengthen myself, starting with gentle exercises, walking especially with my dad and eating energising foods. Slowly, as days went by, I was gaining my strength and the feeling in my hands and feet was coming back gradually.

The trial

My chemo sessions completed in October 2014 and in November 2014 I was put on a trial Olaparib / Placebo for 2 years – this trial was to see if it would keep the cancer at bay. In between regular scans, blood tests were done. However as with every trial there is some uncertainty with side effects and I was affected in as much that I had to have blood transfusions every so often, due to fatigue and low haemoglobin. This trial proved that I was given the drug Olaparib and not the placebo which was confirmed by the trial team after completing the 2 years.

In amidst all this, I was offered genetic testing by the genetic team due to my family history of cancer. After completing our family history, it was confirmed that the cancer was passed onto me via my maternal side of the family in India. My grandmother passed away from ovarian cancer and my mum’s sister passed away from breast cancer. The genetic test involved blood tests and using the histopathology samples that were taken during my operation. This revealed that I carry the BRCA 1 mutation gene which can be passed onto off-springs from either parent carrying the gene, in my case it was my mother who passed the gene to me.

Now that I’m a carrier, my brother’s had to be tested which fortunately they were all negative which means passing the mutation gene to their children is nil. So in our family the spread of genetic cancer stops at me.

Having done the genetic test, I feel that for me there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Going through this experience has made me a stronger person in body and mind, and I look at life very differently now. Life is given to us once and no matter what obstacles come our way we should conquer them with positivity and embrace the goodness. I did just that after my recovery and started my dance classes again which I enjoyed every minute of it even though at times I had two left feet. I was able to perform in various venues and tour with the group for our dance/drama production “Shakuntala”.

The strength of family/friends and my passion to dance gave me the will to live and overcome this hurdle in my life.

A new lease of life

I currently work as a Senior Pharmacy Technician at Epsom General Hospital in Medicines Information where I answer various types of enquires from other healthcare professionals and patient’s helpline, so from day to day I never know what I’m going to be asked. This job in itself has given me the opportunity to research my diagnosis and help me ask the necessary questions to my oncologists and at times challenge them so no pulling the wool over my eyes.

I also attend our Ovarian Cancer Support Group in Purley, Surrey which is held every 2nd Wednesday each month, This support group is for all those women who have had a diagnosis and helps with their concerns, understanding and where to seek help if needed, it is also a platform for those women who are unable to share their feelings with their loved ones so as not to worry them in confidence. We also have guest speakers such as nutritionist, looking good / feeling good during and after cancer, hair loss advice, side effects and health issues with cancer and many more.

For me this group is a god send. It has given me a light to reflect on what I felt and how I can help others overcome certain issues. This gave me the strength more mentally than physically and hence I am now able to do all the things I like without the fear of cancer coming back. If it does, I will conquer it again, as I am not ready to leave this world just yet, as creating more awareness of this horrible disease is important so that many more lives can be saved by early diagnosis.

With this in mind I take your leave for now. I hope this journey of mine helps those to overcome their diagnosis and to be able to live the life they deserve. Having cancer has given me a second chance to live my life to the full, so I hope all those currently going through their cancer journey enjoy every moment and create lovely memories for all those to cherish.

Preeti Dudakia

Preeti was born in Nairobi, East Africa. Her family moved to the UK in the 1960s when she was about one year old. She is one of four siblings, the only girl with three older brothers. She currently works as a Senior Pharmacy Technician at Epsom General Hospital in Medicines Information where she answers various types of enquires from other healthcare professionals and the patient’s helpline.