36-year-old Prachi Kulkarni from Mumbai has not only fought cancer, but also emerged victorious to tell her tale of triumph.

In 2019, Prachi decided to get her blood tests and an overall health checkup done. It was during this time she found the lump.

“They did a biopsy and I underwent surgery in November 2021 to remove the lump, which was later found to be malignant,” she says.

“The next few months were filled with the words — mammograms, CT scans and chemotherapy, and all the while I couldn’t believe I had cancer. I was fit!”

Not only did the chemotherapy sessions cause Prachi to go through an all-time low, but their repercussions were severe.

As a chef, her job necessitated 12-hour shifts, involving standing for the most part of the day. Weakened by the chemo, this was a challenge.

She also developed haemorrhoids during this time and couldn’t sit or walk.

“My tongue looked like an octopus because of all the sores that had erupted. I couldn’t swallow or talk. My fingernails and toenails used to separate from my skin. Things were bad.”

When told she would have to undergo 16 sessions of chemotherapy, she was devastated. But, decided she wouldn’t let a disease defeat her.

Being a runner, Prachi says, she began to think of her chemo sessions as a marathon.

“When running you don’t look at the entire picture, you only look at how much is left to go, at how close to the finish you are.”

In the coming months, Prachi underwent a bilateral mastectomy and another surgery to remove the seven lymph nodes that had developed.

She also contracted COVID which exacerbated every symptom. But she says the most challenging of all were the effects of the radiation treatment.

“It turned my armpits black and burnt.” In January this year, Prachi had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed surgically, the final step of a five-year-long journey.

Today, as she looks back at the winding years with all their twists and turns, she says nothing scares her anymore. “Today,” says Prachi, “I am a different person because of cancer.”