C h e c k l i s t

Check to the end...

          ☑ Chemotherapy
          ☑ Surgery
          ☑ Radiation
          Maintenance Therapy
                     ☑  Herceptin
                     ☐  Anti-Hormonal Treatment

May 27, 2010

An ode to my baldylocks

Growing up I had crazy thick long wavy hair. They were so thick that my neck and back would hurt. Well if you have been brought up in India, you would know what I mean when I say that the school uniform makes you look like just a cookie from a big batch of cookies, exactly same.  To play the devil's advocate, the sheer number of children packed in one class (70 children : 1 teacher ratio), and the stark disparity in income levels of families warrants such socialist dress/hair code regime in schools in India.

So just to give you a visual, when I was in 7th grade, I had waistlength hair (the length was not controlled by the school, thank god)  like every 12 year old wants. I had to wear it in two plaits with white ribbons at the end and a white cloth hairband on the top to make sure I dont have any bangs on my forehead. Could they make a girl look more "not pretty" than this?

I had come a long way from this look in the last 15 some years.  More recently, I had decided on growing my hair long and donating them to locks of love (again). Irony irony.

Regarding my latest baldylocks look (visual included), on most days, I don't mind it at all. I am often at home au naturelle. My baby loves my bald head as much as he loves all my hats and scarves. And yes I just dont feel like wearing the wig anymore. It is a nice one but not comfortable at all.

There are days when we are going to someone's place or out in the world that I struggle the most. First, people who dont know me often give me a sympathetic "oh you have cancer" look and there are days when I feel that I am just not blending in the crowd. Not a fun feeling. But then I assure myself that this is temporary. Do you think a risk averse, careful, non-rebel, conforming to the masses gal like me would have shaved her head and showed up to her job one day?. Then why not enjoy something I would never do. It is like getting that tattoo that I have wanted for the past 10 years but never coughed up enough courage to get one.

I say to myself that I will never ever complain again about my frizzy, unruly, out of control hair that I was always trying to discipline and control. But then never say never, especially when everyone is telling me that the new hair that will come back is going to be thicker and curlier than ever! Aha, cant wait to tame them :)

May 26, 2010

You are not a survivor!

I just chatted (gen-x kind over the internet) with my friend Dede who said something to me that will stick with me forever. She said and I quote "Keep up your good spirits. You are a trooper. You will come out of this "tunnel" and live life to it's fullest. In the meantime, DO NOT let anyone define you as a cancer survivor. That is not who you are, you are Bela, mother, wife, daughter and friend. THAT is who you are!"

I just felt a weight lifted off me when I realized someone else thinks that the word survivor is burdensome and is not how you can define me. I am so complex, stubborn, individualistic, hot tempered at times (euphemism would be "passionate about everything"), loving most of the times (so I think), and opinionated to say the least. So can you define me just as a cancer survivor moving forward? I don't think so. And thanks Dede for putting what I was thinking of all along in black and white.

I have made a few great friends after my diagnosis. These women are a part of my elite club and sisterhood. Another friend I have made is Soniya, whom I met on young survivor's coalition. She and I have a lot of  things in common besides belonging to this elite club of our's. I feel something good comes out of every situation you are in. I am so glad to have met these women. I love their positive upbeat energy! I inspire to be in their confident shoes soon!

May 19, 2010

1st Practice Run for the Komen Race

Hello Everyone

First I would like to thank each and everyone of you for your support through your donations, kind words and sharing your personal experiences with us. Team “Kick Cancer’s Puny Little Butt” has reached its half point mark for its fund raising goals. We have another $450 to go in order to meet our fund raising goals so please go ahead and spread the word to your family and friends.

Having said that…ITS TIME FOR OUR PRACTISE RUNS!!!...actually run/walk. I am setting one up for 6pm on Thursday May 20th. We have perfect running weather with no rain, and temperature hovering in the 70s. Sorry about the extremely short notice. The location will be North Cary Park. Here are the details

Bela's Blog: http://kickcancerspunylittleass.blogspot.com/

Team Page: http://tinyurl.com/3x8dnyo

Date: May 20th, 2010

Time: 6pm

Venue: North Cary Park, 1100 Norwell Blvd, Cary, NC 27513. We shall meet right in front of the rest rooms. For all you climbing fanatics, this is also the location of the Cary Boulders, so if you wish you can bring your climbing shoes with you.

Google Maps: http://tinyurl.com/3ac27w6

We shall walk down from North Cary Park to start our run on the Black Creek Greenway. This trail is flat and follows the Black Creek to Lake Crabtree. We shall run to the Lake Crabtree Dam (the view is splendid). The one way distance is 1.3 mi and we will be alternating between walk and runs. I am expecting our run to take about an hr. This will be a “nobody left behind run”. I am a self-proclaimed fat boy with affinity to all things edible and I can assure that I’ll be trailing behind the pack.

Here is a mapping of our route: http://tinyurl.com/39mjfpb

Please shoot me an email at tushar dot mahale *@* gmail dot com if you have any questions or if you need my cell number.

Hope to see you all & Once again thanks for your support.


May 16, 2010

Bring it on....

Just one more chemo left (hopefully)!
The last Taxotere, Carboplatin and Herceptin (TCH) chemo is on June 7th.

The tentative treatment plan is:

1. June 4: Consult with the surgeon and radiation oncologist.
2. June 7: Last chemo (pray, ever).
3. After June 28: Green light from Dr. Awesome for surgery depending on surgeon/OR availability.
4. Herceptin (targeted drug for HER2/NEU + cancer) infusions every 3 weeks for at least 11 more times (and may be some more). That means at least until the first quarter of 2011.
5. After recovery from surgery, radiation every day for 6 weeks. Also, depending on pathology they will decide if 4 more rounds of chemo with Adriamycin (infamous red devil) and Cytoxan will be required or not. Pray that it wont be needed. I don't want to lose the hair that I will grow in those 6-8 weeks to fall. I can get it only once in my lifetime. I don't want to lose a lifeline. And I absolutely don't want to deal with the downs of chemo, AGAIN! But also I know the docs are watching my back to beat it once n for all.
6. Tamoxifen (targeted drug for ER+ / PR+ cancer) for next 5 years (bye bye ovaries).
7. Lupron shots (targeted drug for ER+ cancer), if needed, every 3 weeks for 2 years. This means definitely hello menopause [85% chance that it will be temporary])!.

Dr. Awesome said Yoga, Mindful Meditation, and Pranayam are going to be as instrumental in beating this darn thing and keeping it at bay as all of the treatment above. So yes that means a lifestyle and diet changes. I will be meeting with a nutritionist after my chemo, but basically low fat and more plant based diet is recommended. I would love to make these changes as I have always been a hippie wannabe. A wannabe because I still lust material possessions, modern amenities and love what capitalism can offer. But life is all about balance, more so now than ever.

Love. Live. Laugh.


Two Poems that mean a lot to me:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there's some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


Hope is the thing with feathers
by Emily Dickinson


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

May 12, 2010

Susan Komen Race T-Shirt & Bibs

Your T-shirt & Bib's for this year's Susan G Komen Race for the Cure would be available for pick up at the following locations

Monday, June 7, Southpoint Mall-6-9pm
Tuesday, June 8, REI North Hills-6-9pm
Wednesday, June 9, Cary Town Center-6-9pm
Thursday, June 10, Triangle Town Center-6-9pm
Friday, June 11, Meredith College noon-7pm
Saturday, June 12, Meredith College 6am-9am

There are limited number of shirts available so please make sure that you pick them up before the race.


May 10, 2010

I am a statistic

One in eight women in the US will be told by their doctor that they have breast cancer at some point in their life. In 2009, more than 250,000 new cases of breast cancer were expected to be detected and 75% of these cases would have been for invasive cancers. To be more specific, this year about 10,000 women under 40 years of age will be diagnosed with breast cancer making it the leading cause of death in women between 15 and 54 years of age. I made all these cuts! Yes, I am a statistic and I am one of the few elite 10,000 young women in the US who received the "you have breast cancer" phone call from their doctor this year. These statistics are like using google map: you can narrow the search down to your house using the satellite images. The numbers cited here are just incidence rates of the disease, but then there are a slew of other statistics such as 5 year/ 10 year survival rates, rates of recurrence etc. Well I choose not to read and retain those numbers. I don’t want to live in fear and I don’t want knowledge to burden my spirit. May be I am being an ostrich and burying my head on being threatened, so be it. I am not in this elite club to prove anyone how strong and macho I am, because I am not, and I don’t want to be.
That being said, guys only 2 more chemos left. I am so tired of the ups and downs associated with the treatment and I really want it to be done with. This is turning out to be like end of semester exams. Just 2 more left and I am not psyched about them at all. I can’t wait to get it done with so that I can enjoy my vacation whole heartedly and yes grow me some hair!

Someone told me that the hardest part was accepting the diagnosis and then the chemo. I believe that. It is not because you get sick, but because of the repetitive nature of the treatment. Every 3 weeks for 7 times blasting your body with toxins is tiring. Believe it or not, I am actually having a great week health wise, but this time around I can’t stop obsessing about May 17th and June 7th!! What happened to just focusing on the positive and staying in the present? Beating cancer is as much of a mental challenge as physical, and my mind is racing to a place that is still some distance away.

Well this cloud will pass.

Let me talk about my silver lining now. Sahy took his first steps last Saturday night in front of a room full of friends cheering him on! What a cute show-off :) ! He is indeed my one in 4 million (babies born in the US in 2009) statistic! Muah!

P.S.: I am going to see an onco-shrink today. Dr. Awesome wanted me to talk to someone other than friends and family to cope with the fears associated with cancer diagnosis at an early age. I wonder if she will make me lie down on a couch like Betty Draper in Mad Men. Wicked cool !

May 6, 2010

Susan G. Komen Run: Join Team "Kick Cancer's Punny Little Butt"

Dear Friends

I never realized realized how close this disease was to me till Bela got diagnosed with it. As you all know Super B wears a number of hats; a proud parent of a cute 1 year old, a researcher in health care, an artists and an individual with an unwavering moral compass. She also happens to be the one who got me motivated about running (and yes I ve been slcaking out on it). It would be fitting to raise our glasses to Bela kicking cancer's punny little butt by getting together and participating in the Susan G Komen's race for the cure. Mark your calendar's for Saturday, June 12th, 2010 at Meredith College

I hope to see you all, including Bela, at the race. Also get your friends & family memebers; the ones you like and the ones you avoid (think of it as punishment for a good cause). Do forward this posting to people you think would like to participate.

We shall be ramping up our preperation for the run as the race day approaches. I shall be posting more updates on Bela's Blog and the team page. The things to look forward to would include

1] Practise runs at Lake Johnson, Lake Crabtree, Meredith College etc

2] Preperation for the post race party

Here are some links

Bela's Blog

Race Registration:
Click on Join a Team and use the team name "kickcancerspunylittlebutt" or "Kick Caner's Puny Litte Butt" ...We shall be doing the 5K fun run/walk (co-ed)

Team Page

Race Day Schedule

Remember, one person can make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. Susan G. Komen for the Cure was founded by one sister making a promise to another sister. You can be a part of this worthwhile effort! Our promise of a world without breast cancer does not just rest in the hands of Susan G Komen for the Cure. It is up to you, our community of survivors and co-survivors, to stand united with us until the promise is fulfilled and the cures are found.

Once again, hope to see you all at the race and hats of to my Guru-Diva for her strong battle against cancer.


Please fee free to reach me at
tushar *dot* mahale at gmail *dot* com

Race for the Cure

The Susan Komen Race for the Cure in Raleigh is June 12th. Tushar has set up a team for Bela this year called "Kick Cancer's Punny Little Butt". If you are planning to run this year, please join the team and we can all run together. The info for registration is here:

Team Home Page

Registration Page