Rediff.com  » Getahead » How Chhavi Mittal Is Dealing With Cancer

How Chhavi Mittal Is Dealing With Cancer

By DIVYA NAIR
May 12, 2022 10:54 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

'You can either sulk and blame your destiny or you can choose to handle the situation with positivity.'

How Chhavi Mittal is coping with breast cancer

IMAGE: Actor-mom Chhavi Mittal remained calm and positive ahead of her breast cancer surgery.

It was something as simple as getting hurt in the gym.

And a consequent visit to the doctor.

That's when life changed for Chhavi Mittal.

Last month, the 41-year-old actor and co-founder of Shitty Ideas Trending was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.

She decided she would not wait and, on April 25, underwent surgery to get rid of the lump. Chhavi is now recovering at her home in Mumbai.

Yet, she has taken the time to speak to Rediff.com's Divya Nair about the importance of screening tests and having the right attitude if one is faced with this life-altering health condition.

"When I was in the gym, I hurt my chest so I consulted a doctor," she recalls.

"They spotted the lump in my breast, which had been there for a while and I had ignored. The doctor decided to do a scan. After the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), they'd called for an ultrasound.

"We consulted a breast cancer surgeon who did a physical examination and suggested a biopsy. That scared me. I kept telling myself, 'I don't want to have cancer.'

When the report came, it was not what I wanted to hear. The result was positive. I was diagnosed with stage 2 of breast cancer.

Chhavi -- who has undergone multiple surgeries including a C-section and ovarian surgery -- says pain is inevitable but your reaction isn't.

"Usually, when I am in the dark and there is uncertainly, I get jittery. But once I know there is a crisis, and when I know what that crisis exactly is, I am relatively calm. I handled the fact that I had cancer better than I handled the suggestion about the biopsy."

How Chhavi Mittal is coping with breast cancer

IMAGE: Flaunting her taut abs ahead of surgery.

The recovery period, post-surgery, would be three to four weeks, she was told.

Chhavi's first concern was for her children. She decided she would educate her nine-year old daughter Areeza about her condition.

"Although she is young, I wanted her to know.

"I asked her, 'Do you know what cancer is?' I had talked to her before about my nani, who had a different type of cancer. I told her there are different kinds of cancer and some are curable.

"Then I told her, 'Mama is not too well.'

"She got very serious and asked me, 'What do you mean by that?'

"I told her I am going to a doctor.

"She quickly realised what I was trying to tell her and asked, 'Is the C word like Voldemort (the mega villain in the Harry Potter series who so terrifying that no one takes his name), the one who cannot be named? Do you have THAT (cancer)?' And she started crying.

"I told her it was at a pretty early stage and would require surgery and treatment. I explained that the doctors would take out the lump and give me whatever treatment was required. She was very brave and strong."

Chhavi says the toughest part about being diagnosed with cancer is knowing you don't have much choice about the treatment or the luxury of time to decide what to do.

"Depending on the diagnosis and stage of detection, you will be given one choice. Once you have decided who your surgeon is, s/he will suggest the next step. There is nothing you can do, except accept it and surrender to the process with full faith.

"Each doctor or surgeon will suggest options based on what stage of cancer you have so the treatment will obviously vary from person to person."

Prior to her surgery, Chhavi's mother flew from Gurugram to be by her side and take care of her grandchildren.

Meanwhile, Chhavi checked into a hotel, visited the gym a day before to work on her abs and even posted a video on Instagram where she is seen dancing in the hospital before the operation.

The video went viral. Though a lot of people admired her confidence and spirit, she was also trolled by some "for being careless and irresponsible."

Over the years, however, Chhavi has learned to ignore naysayers. She explains, "Sometimes, you have to do what you have to do. And only you can decide what really makes you happy."

How Chhavi Mittal is coping with breast cancer

IMAGE: With her mom, her pillar of support.

Minutes ahead of her surgery, which lasted six hours, the doctor asked Chhavi to close her eyes and relax. She replied, 'I'm going to sleep. Nothing is in my control now. You are the one who is going to perform the surgery, so I trust you.'

While it's not easy for everyone to have such a positive attitude to an unexpected crisis, Chhavi believes that even when you don't have a choice, you always have two choices.

"If you can control or change something, do it. But if you can't, just surrender. So you can either sulk and blame your destiny or you can choose to handle the situation with positivity."

Now, Chhavi is prepping up for radiation therapy.

Cancer treatment may take years and there is a chance that it might recurr.

"Cancer cells are present in everyone's body. I am lucky I detected it early, but I don't want to be stupid," she says.

"The lump (in my breast) was so huge that I could feel it through my clothes but I never did a mammogram," she adds with regret.

How Chhavi Mittal is coping with breast cancer

IMAGE: Chhavi wants to raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening for young women.

"Early detection is the only key to survival and it's worth the effort. As a post-cancer patient, you have to get a PET scan done every six months to check if it has recurred.

"Please do regular self-examinations/mammograms," she says.

"If you are over 40, please get tested regularly.

"Do not neglect a lump if you find one.

"If you want to reduce the risk of cancer, you have to change your lifestyle.

"I may not be an expert, but I have spoken to multiple experts and survivors and there are some things I have learned about coping and living with cancer."

"Once I get better, I want to educate everyone though my personal experience and learning."

Chhavi was, even before the cancer, careful about her diet and she worked out regularly.

Her advice: "Don't take your health for granted.

"Post-cancer, I want to avoid sugar and diary for life.

"Today, when I see youngsters in cafes having their coffee with whipped cream and sugar, I want to warn them of the consequences. I want to tell them what you eat today will show up later.

"I know a lot of parents and grandparents tell us, 'Bachhe iss umar me nahi khayenge to kab khayenge (If the children don't eat what they want at this age, when will they do so)?'

"I want to tell them, 'Sirf iss umar me nahi, kabhi nahi khana chahiye (It's not just at this age; they should never ever eat something like this).

"It's very important for us as parents to cultivate good habits in our children. We need to train them to be mindful of their health and lifestyle early on so they have a healthy future."

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
DIVYA NAIR / Rediff.com