It was year 2007, I met this great guy, an avid trekker like me, who introduced me to the world of running. He would travel across the city everyday to help me train for the 10K race. Fast forward to 2012, many races later, I was training for that year’s TCS 10k with the same guy, Gautham, who was by then my husband. But this time it wasn’t the same. I was dealing with a persistent upper back pain and a nagging cough, which the doctors attributed to a sedentary work style and Bangalore’s pollution. Though my gut feel said something was not right, I consoled myself with this explanation given by the doctors and I went ahead with the daily practice, but would be out of breath within the first 100 meters. I had to forego participating that year and instead was in and out of the hospital getting umpteen tests and a surgery done. In a few weeks, we were given the devastating diagnosis – Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma – cancer of the lymphatic system. I had a huge tumor crushing my left lung which made it almost non functional. No doubt I was always out of breath.
The following 6 months was beyond what one can be ever be prepared for. Cancer was a disease I had always related to affecting much older people. I was just 27, in my prime years, healthy and active. This couldn’t have happened to me. Once I got my head around accepting that it is what it is, I realized that in the present times a cancer diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. With an array of treatment options and advances made in medical science, I knew I had every chance to beat this, and I decided to focus on just that. Chemotherapy, sucked out whatever little energy I had and the other side effects which it brought along left me bed ridden for most of the days. Those dark times also had a silver lining – my amazing and supportive family, Gautham, my partner in the true sense, and my caring friends. It was as much their fight as it was mine.
With so many things not in his control, running gave Gautham the balance to handle the situation. And he encouraged me to get back to it, after my treatment. It took me about 6 months to get to do 2 km of brisk walking without feeling beaten down but I didn’t have the courage to start running. There were many ‘what ifs’ in my mind. After a year, in February 2014 I participated first in a 5K and within two weeks in a 10K race. My timings was nothing to write home about, nevertheless it gave me the confidence that I still had it in me, and I could slowly build up from there on. I joined Pacemakers with whom Gautham trained where he had improved his running form and timing and had made great group of friends who were so positive and motivated. It was great to be able to just be part of this group, and now under my encouraging coach, Mr. Kothandapani and a lot of motivation from fellow pacemakers, I am taking baby steps towards my goal. Cancer took away many things. I no longer have the lean and fit runner’s body, I struggle to run a lap of 400 meters in under 3 mins , but what the disease couldn’t take away was my spirit. I am back to running with a vengeance. This has given me the confidence that I am back in control of my mind and body. So dear running, I am here to stay. TCS World 10k 2014, here I come!