You can never really be prepared for what life throws at you, but you can certainly be motivated to fight it. And that’s what actress Sonali Bendre did when doctors told her that she has stage IV cancer and she had only 30% chance of survival. Last July, the actress announced about her dreaded disease via a brave post on Instagram, and since then, she has unapologetically shared her emotional journey fighting cancer and inspired millions.
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Sometimes, when you least expect it, life throws you a curveball. I have recently been diagnosed with a high grade cancer that has metastised, which we frankly did not see coming. A niggling pain led to some tests, which led to this unexpected diagnosis. My family and close friends have rallied around me, providing the best support system that anyone can ask for. I am very blessed and thankful for each of them. There is no better way to tackle this, than to take swift and immediate action. And so, as advised by my doctors, I am currently undergoing a course of treatment in New York. We remain optimistic and I am determined to fight every step of the way. What has helped has been the immense outpouring of love and support I’ve received over the past few days, for which I am very grateful. I’m taking this battle head on, knowing I have the strength of my family and friends behind me.
Her core pillar of strength through her journey was her husband, Goldie Behl, and close friends. It was actually Goldie’s decision to move to New York for treatment though Sonali was against it. Sonali spoke to film critic, Rajeev Masand, in an inspiring chat. She shared:
‘I didn’t want to go to New York. It was my husband who wanted to go. And I fought with him all through the flight. ‘Why are you doing this? We have good doctors here. Why are you taking me away?’ My home, my life… in three days, we literally just packed and left and, I don’t know, what was happening. I was like let’s, at least, speak to the doctors here and he was just quiet through the whole thing and focussed. In the day, he was organizing and, in the night, as New York was wake; so he was organizing, so day and night–he was at that. So I got him and actually cribbed about the whole thing, on the flight. Through the flight, I have cribbed; I was really venting.’
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“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.” – Cheryl Strayed, Wild. Over the past couple of months, I have had good days and bad ones. There have been days when I’ve been so exhausted and in so much pain that even lifting a finger hurt. I feel like sometimes it’s a cycle… one that starts off with physical pain and leads to mental and emotional pain. The bad days have been many… Post chemo, post-surgery and the like… where even just laughing hurts. Sometimes it felt like it took everything I’ve had to push past it… a minute to minute battle with myself. I got through it knowing that even though I was fighting a long drawn out, draining battle… it was one that was worth the fight. It’s important to remember that we’re allowed to have those bad days. Forcing yourself to be happy and cheerful all the time serves no purpose. Who are we being fake and putting on an act for? I allowed myself to cry, to feel the pain, to indulge in self-pity… for a short while. Only you know what you’re going through and it is fine to accept it. Emotions aren’t wrong. Feeling negative emotions isn’t wrong. But after a point, identify it, recognize it and refuse to let it control your life. It takes an immense amount of self-care to get out of that zone. Sleep always helps, or having my favourite smoothie after chemo, or just talking to my son. For now, as my treatment continues… my visual focus remains to just get better and get back home. It’s yet another test… Student all my life… Learning all my life… #OneDayAtATime 📷: @srishtibehlarya
Later, Sonali realized that her husband was right in every way as she needed immediate diagnose to cure herself. Sonali added:
‘I land in New York and next day, we go to the doctor. He looks at everything and we had sent all our tests and he says, you know, it is the fourth stage and you have 30% chance of survival. That really hit me; I just turned to Goldie and I remember saying: ‘Thank God, you got me here’. Goldie always says that ‘tomorrow I’d rather feel I over-reacted, over-spent than under-reacted and have that regret that I should have done that’. There was no time for it and we were not told that it was the fourth stage but Goldie had started reading about it and he was suspecting it.’
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This is me. And in this moment, I am really happy. People give me strange looks when I say that now, but it's true and I'll tell you why. I am now paying attention to every moment, looking for every opportunity to find joy and #SwitchOnTheSunshine. Yes, there are moments of pain and low energy, but I am doing what I like, spending time with people I love, and feeling very loved and happy. I am extremely grateful to my friends, my pillars of strength, who at a moment's notice, arrived to be with me and help me through this. In between their busy schedules they find time to visit, call, message, FaceTime… basically never leaving a moment for me to feel alone. Thank you for showing me what true friendship is. #HappyFriendshipDay, ladies. Blessed to have you all in my life (including the ones not in the picture… You know who you are) @gayatrioberoi @suzkr P.S. Nowadays I spend far less time getting ready because I don't have to fuss over my hair! 😜#BaldIsBeautiful #FindThePositive #OneDayAtATime Picture credit: @hrithikroshan
Want to see the full inspiring interview? Here’s the video:
What made Sonali a winner is her positive outlook and inner strength. After all, life is all about how you fight back. Does her story inspire you? Share your thoughts with us in comments.