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A personal journey that beat Cancer: Namrata Singh Gujral
Namrata Singh Gujral is an IndianAmerican director who has directed House of Sand Fog, Kaante and her upcoming movie 5 Weddings starring Nargis Fakhri and Rajkummar Rao She has been a 2 time cancer survivor First surviving breast cancer and later surviving Burkitt Lymphoma a blood cancer and has shared a letter in the light of the news of Sonali Bendre having cancer
Namrata Singh Gujral is an Indian-American director who has directed 'House of Sand & Fog', 'Kaante' and her upcoming movie '5 Weddings' starring Nargis Fakhri and Rajkummar Rao. She has been a 2 time cancer survivor (First surviving breast cancer and later surviving Burkitt Lymphoma – a blood cancer) and has shared a letter in the light of the news of Sonali Bendre having cancer.
Here are the extracts
My name is Namrata Singh Gujral and I also happen to be a cancer survivor, twice in fact, with an active hand in the entertainment industry. I, too, have often found myself filling the role of mentor and empath to many struggling through their own journeys, just as I had with my Bollywood friend.
My personal journey began with a breast cancer diagnosis in my thirties, for which the price was four chemotherapy treatments and a bilateral mastectomy. Unfortunately, my journey did not end there, and five years later I was diagnosed with Burkitt Lymphoma — a blood cancer that is apparently the most aggressive cancer known to man.
The price for this treatment was much higher and included my long tenancy at City of Hope. I could not find a bone marrow donor match, so I opted for an aggressive clinical chemo cocktail with nine chemo variations, 24/7, in the hopes of prolonging my life as much as possible. As you may have gathered from this piece, I was one of the lucky ones that not only survived, but also thrived afterwards. I got to be there for my daughter on her way to adulthood, and for that, no price is too high.
But this piece is not about me. I write this piece because as many strides as we have made concerning the negative stigma against a cancer diagnosis, we must now move forward in how we emotionally tackle cancer survival as a society. More and more people are surviving cancer. Yes, even stage 4.
I've seen the buzz around Sonali Bendre and Irrfan Khan's recent diagnoses. There are so many well-wishers, and so much love online; but, also an element of dread and sadness in some of the posts. As much as those who love you may mourn you after your diagnosis, the truth is cancer is not always a death sentence. Yes, even if you're diagnosed with advanced stage metastatic cancer. As my friend Olivia Newton-John puts it, you have to believe the diagnosis, not the prognosis. Your prognosis is individual and unique to you. So, let's not write the obituary yet.
For the record, we all get cancerous cells in our bodies a few times in our lives. Yes, all of us. Most times, our immune system is able to snuff it out. Sometimes it doesn't. Different studies come out every day on what kind of life you should be living or lifestyle formula you should be following in order to prevent cancer or defeat it. The truth is we really don't know. Should I have worked out an extra fifteen minutes a day, gone for that walk, smiled more, drank less, partied harder? Should I now break up with kale, make up with kale, follow macrobiotic, become vegetarian, become vegan, avoid food altogether, avoid drugs, or live better through chemistry? A recent Harvard study summed it up by saying that cancer is mostly a by-product of luck: as is survival after