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TBI Blogs: A Cancer Survivor Talks About the Importance of Mental Health & Asking for Help

TBI Blogs: A Cancer Survivor Talks About the Importance of Mental Health & Asking for Help

In the last 2 decades, Farida Rizwan has beaten cancer twice, and has also dealt with the death of her mother and sister. Seeking professional help to deal with her problems is what helped her through this dark period in her life.

In the last 2 decades, Farida Rizwan has beaten cancer twice, and has also dealt with the death of her mother and sister. Seeking professional help to deal with her problems is what helped her through this dark period in her life.

On the face of it, Farida Rizwan looks like a carefree 49-year-old. She is the proud mother of two wonderful children, and seems content with her life. It is hard to imagine that behind the smiles and laughter is a woman who has fought cancer for over two decades.

In the 1990s, following her mother and sister’s diagnosis with cancer, Farida was advised to go in for a biopsy, and was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer. The diagnosis came at a time when her 11-month-old baby was also diagnosed as a differently-abled child.

It was a difficult time for Farida, who suddenly found her world crumbling around her. Unwilling to give up, she gathered her courage and underwent a successful mastectomy.

Cancer Survivor

Just when she thought she could finally move on from the medical crisis, the cancer resurfaced in two months. This recurrence was followed by the news that her sister had lost the battle to cancer.

Farida’s family was overcome by grief. In the span of one short year, not only had Farida been diagnosed with cancer twice, but had to deal with the loss of her sister to the disease, and deal with the diagnosis of her young daughter’s disability.

The circumstances left Farida feeling weak, both physically and mentally. Yet, for the sake of her distraught family and her young children, she persevered with her treatment, regularly undergoing chemotherapy and taking her medicines.

It was by no means an easy road to recovery. Chemotherapy, and the intense pain which accompanied it, plunged Farida into a severe depression.

Overcome by frequent periods of hopelessness and despair, Farida sought counselling in Bangalore.

Cancer Survivor

The professionally help greatly helped her deal with her situation. Post-counselling, Farida began to make a concentrated effort to meet and befriend new people. Her new friends helped her life in the moment and enjoy every minute of life, as and when it happened.

Thanks to their help, Farida went from merely surviving, to living and thriving. The support she received even encouraged her to complete her graduation, an academic pursuit she had abandoned midway went she had gotten married.

Farida also learnt how to operate the computer and use the internet. This helped her connect with several women in India as well as the West, who also had breast cancer and were struggling to come to terms with their illness. These women became a pillar of support for Farida, and she began sharing her experiences with them, in turn, learning how they overcame the difficult circumstances.

“The past 20 years have taught me many important lessons. Every day that I live, every breath that I take is like a blessing now. It is strange how we tend to take for granted the most important and beautiful things in our life,” says Farida.


“Cancer made me lose all my hair during chemotherapy and honestly, now I cherish every strand of hair that grew back after I healed. It taught me how important it is to not mull over small issues, not take every small mistake to heart and to forgive people quickly. It taught me the importance of hope and dreams. It taught me how to express my feelings with words; from being an introvert, I became an extrovert as I realized the importance of sharing and caring,” she continues.

She further adds that cancer has been a demon in her life as it has taken away her sister and her mother, and has also challenged her existence. But then, it also helped her become the person that she is today, a person she could never have been without it.

Last year, she went to the US with her children and made wonderful memories with her family in Disneyland and Philadelphia; memories she cherishes, thanks to her close calls with cancer.

Farida even has a message for people suffering from cancer:

“We need not surrender to cancer. We can beat it up with all our might. All we need is timely intervention from efficient doctors and a super strong will power. Please trust me when I say that the struggle is worth it. Today, when I look at my young daughter growing up to be a pretty young lady, and at my son deciding the right course for his post-graduation, I feel so proud and happy to be alive.”

On October 10th, which is World Mental Health Day, YourDOST is celebrating Farida and other such extraordinary people, and ‘BraveSpirits,’ who have been through intense emotional pain and come out stronger.

You can connect with them and get your questions answered about life, struggle and moving on. This event will be held on October 10th at 8 PM on YourDOST’s Facebook Page. The link to register for the event is here. You can support the cause of making India a healthier and happier place by showing your support to this campaign.

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