Power of Reach: Why Celebrity Cancer Survivor Stories Matter?

Cancer survivors are people who battled the disease and came out alive from the life-threatening condition. Despite many innovations in medical science, cancer is still dreaded. The condition sees no class or creed and can happen to anyone irrespective of their lifestyle, medical history and economic situation. Celebrities who fight cancer tell us how common the disease can be. They are often looked upon as the beacon of fitness and healthy lifestyle but the occurrence of disease in them suggests that fitness alone is not the sole factor determining whether the illness can affect a person or not.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) defines a cancer survivor as someone who might be cancer-free, still living with cancer or has been in remission for years. In other words, people who might have crossed all active stages of cancer could also be given the cap of survivors.

Celebrity cancer survivors do undergo the same challenges as any common person would but their accessibility to media and their voice can help debunk myths about the condition, spread awareness and validate the physical and emotional challenges one might face on the road to recovery. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that many young voices in India started opening up about depression when actor Deepika Padukone pioneered the discussion.

Here are a few celebrity experiences of battling cancer and what insight people drew from them-

Chhavi Mittal had all her boxes ticked right

Actor Chhavi Mittal (42) recently exited her battle against breast cancer and shared with media outlets how her reports declaring she had stage 2 breast cancer shocked her. She shared how she had “ticked all the boxes” by then including breastfeeding her children, going for regular screening tests, eating and sleeping at the right time and regularly hitting the gym.

According to Globocon 2020, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every four minutes in India. Many of them have a fairly healthy lifestyle and grade well in fitness. According to a practising oncologist, the median age of presentation at diagnosis is 49 years in India as against 62 in the Western population. This is a relative figure as the population is made up of mostly younger women (nearly 75% below age 50).

As per experts, cancer is not a straightforward condition but is a combination of many factors that might be at play. Fitness is one factor among many. It might be surprising to see healthy people ending up with cancer diagnosis but there are factors like genetics that cannot be underestimated. When genetic mutations accumulate over time, they lead to cancers. The tumours are controlled when cancer cells are destroyed by surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.

Sonali Bendre was all positive about life

A person’s emotional health also plays a role in the manifestation of cancer. However, like fitness, it is just one factor among many.

Actor Sonali Bendre was devastated hearing that she had “metastasised” breast cancer. While she was taking her treatment in the US, the actor questioned her therapist that why in spite of always being positive about life, she ended up with a serious illness like cancer. Reportedly, her psychiatrist had countered her by saying that if cancer was caused alone by thoughts, he would have been the richest doctor in town. He had told her that the role of genetics and other factors cannot be downplayed.

Might not always appear with a boom

Chhavi Mittal also shared that her diagnosis of breast cancer was not intentional. The actor had no obvious symptoms. Reportedly, she had developed a muscle pull and it was during a routine check-up, she was alerted by her doctor who could see a cancerous lump in one of her breasts and asked her to go for a biopsy instantly. These experiences also tell us the importance of regular screening and how cancer is not always that obvious.

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