I have been a fan of Anthony Bourdain, and he has inspired me in many different ways. One of his quotes that have always stayed with me — “As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly; you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you.“
I couldn’t agree more with the quote because my journey has influenced me to be open-minded, adapt, and navigate professional and personal situations effectively over the years. I am Brinda Robin, 43 yr old, married to my high school sweetheart — Robin Marian, mother of 12 and 9-year-old girls, and recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
Life throws you a curveball when you least expect it. Robin and I have faced some tough challenges, both in our personal and professional lives, which we have confronted head-on. However, in this situation, all I could comprehend after hearing the devastating news about cancer is that I had to get into a battle with no preparation or warning, but I knew my friends and family would give me their unconditional support. A tough road lay ahead, which would require a lot of sacrifices and discipline, starting with giving up many of my favorite foods and drinks. 2021 just became too personal, posing many tribulations!! My life is now changed forever — it will leave its marks on my body and mind.
My breast and hair don’t represent me — and cancer cannot define or take away my career. My life is more important, and I want to live long for my family. I want to continue being on top of my game and have never been more confident. I believe my perseverance, focus, and incredible passion for anything I take over will always keep me going.
Sharing my life experience publicly with the world brought up some worries of privacy. Am I being too open?
But when I see my family, colleagues, friends, partners, and new team members rooting for me, this immense outpouring of love and support has only been overwhelming and has inspired me to continue. The response to my diagnosis emboldened me to go ahead and share my experience enduring the new change.
Through my writing, I will capture my thoughts, feelings, emotions, anxieties, and everything I am thinking and going through in each recovery phase. Though this is a very personal matter, I believe it is relevant to share my unusual journey. I am not a writer but plan to go with the flow and tell my story honestly.
The statistics are alarming when you look at how many women are battling breast cancer. Most women often feel guilty and think they have brought it upon themselves and their families. As a mother, wife, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, friend, and professionally ambitious woman, I was among them. I am usually up for challenges and have taken several bold initiatives in my life so far; however, the diagnosis left me feeling anguished, making the present worrisome and future frightening
What inspired me to bounce back and accept the new reality is speaking with cancer survivors I got introduced to by my friends and neighbors. I appreciate their willingness to share their experience candidly with me. Learning from them about their struggles, reading several stories online, talking to my oncologist helped me mentally prepare for the new challenge to some extent. I realized that I have to condition myself differently to have a strong, healthy, and happy life and mind to overcome the challenging diagnosis. There are just so many of us battling through life’s challenges in our day-to-day lives, and if I can have even a little impact on anyone reading, I would count it as a win.
Speaking with family and friends — especially from my Indian community, I realized many knew of breast cancer only as medical jargon. The knowledge was limited about the diagnosis, type of breast cancer, treatment, and the recovery process. This actually made me read about India’s stats, which was scary and disappointing. Out of one hundred breast cancer women, forty-fifty die within five years in India, but less than five die in the US. One of the biggest reasons for the high mortality rates is a late diagnosis, primarily due to a lack of awareness. Despite my education, exposure, and privileges — I did not have much awareness. Most people feel they have to deal with it all by themselves and feel the world doesn’t need to know. I hope we speak and share more broadly about breast cancer and help eradicate the shyness and social stigma around it.
Unquestionably early detection saves lives — it saved mine!!!! I want to get your attention to raise awareness together of early detection — it improves outcomes and saves cost. Don’t put off your annual checkups or limit your tests only to bloodwork — get your mammogram done. Be candid with your doctors about your family history. We still do not have sufficient knowledge of the cause of breast cancer, but with early detection, there is a good chance that it can be cured. Love yourself !!