How Nature and Ganga healed me during my Cancer Treatment

During Chemotherapy....surrounded by Himalayan foothills and turquoise green Ganga.

During Chemotherapy....surrounded by Himalayan foothills and turquoise green Ganga.

Nature has been my companion since childhood. As a child, looking at the trees, the hills gave me a sense of joy, a sense of belonging. As I grew up, my relationship with nature became a bit distant as the life took on and I became busy with my career, family life. When I was 32 years old, which was in early 2017, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and had to go through the surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. After my diagnosis, I lost the context of “practicality” and the inner child within me took over the real-life expectations. I decided to get my treatment done in Delhi and my husband drove me every week to Rishikesh, in the foothills of the Himalayas, near Ganga. Deep inside, I knew that doctors and medical science would do the best they can, though I had to find a place of calm within, built my inner strength, in order to beat the Cancer. I had no plan and somehow trusted the destiny that everything will work out. I convinced my family and doctors who were initially very reluctant and thought I had gone insane, though later seeing my resolve, agreed and supported me in my decision. Their help and support was immense. I found an apartment facing the river bank and relocated my family for 6 months. Every morning, I used to wake up to the sight of the milky green Ganga flowing right next to me, the valley surrounded my Himalayan foothills, the chirping of birds and a burst of energy that came with the river breeze. I would hike down to the river, catch the first rays of sunlight, feeling the rich life around me, feeling the sound of Ganga.

I explored the nearby mountains, waterfalls, temples, took dips in the Ganga’s freezing water, saw the sunrise and forgot that I was going through chemotherapy. The worst time of my life suddenly changed into the most enlightened time of my life. If given a chance, I wouldn’t want to erase this memory.

Few weeks after my treatment, I was hiking by the river and came across a beautiful Ashram on the banks of Ganga. I decided to go there and found my teacher who taught me Yoga and meditation. Whenever I used to have aches and pains, thanks to the chemotherapy, I would take a dip in the Ganga and would feel a sudden rush of energy, with aches and pains behind me. There was a time, when I had blisters all over my scalp, and my head buzzed with tingling pain. I remember a mighty cascading waterfall, and rather than taking painkillers and sleeping, I decided to go with my husband for a swim in the waterfall. After hiking for a bit, we reached the majestic waterfall and we stood right below the gushing cold water. My scalp became numb, the sensations of pain were gone, and I felt so happy and fresh. So is the power of the mother na- ture.

Few weeks after my surgery, I started practicing Yoga and meditation. For me, Yoga was a way to communicate with nature and myself. Yoga and meditation opened my heart and relieved me from any emotional stress that blurred my mind. Yoga built my inner strength, gave me confidence in my own body, confidence that I am healing every day and I started feeling energetic and full of life. Doing meditation by the river, listening to the soft evening waves of Ganga, the sound of chanting in the air, made me feel so free, so fearless, so in one with nature. I never felt alone. There was always an invisible force, guiding me, protecting me, loving me. During my 8th chemotherapy, the port that is used to inject the medicine got broken and the wire got stuck in my heart. And it was just stuck right above my arteries, at an angle which didn’t choke me. for at least few days. I had to go through a bypass procedure to remove the broken wire of the port. I feel it was a miracle that the wire didn’t escape and killed me, it rather got stuck. The miracle which I believe was a gift from nature, from Ganga. After my treatment got over, I kept on going to Rishikesh, and coming to Ganga felt like coming back to my mother who showered me with unconditional love and healed me of Cancer.

Often life doesn’t go the way we have planned. Emotional turmoils, life-changing events, work stress, relationship issues, responsibilities; can drain us, resulting in unhappiness, disappointments, anger, and often lifestyle diseases. Nature and Yoga brings back the inner child within us - the child that knows how to be joyful and full of life. Yoga teaches us to control the ever-flickering mind, build the inner strength, the inner resolve to chase our dreams. It gives us clarity, a vision of what we want to do in our life, what matters the most to us. It makes us physically active and agile, nourishes our mind, body and soul. For me, in true sense, yoga and mother nature are the elixir of life, nourishing us, giving us the gift of mental, physical and emotional health.