Vandana Ketkar Chatterjee, CrediHero, Cervical Cancer Survivor
Meet Vandana Ketkar Chatterjee, who runs an Executive Search Consultancy in New Delhi in India, specializing in the Telecom and Aerospace sectors.
Vandana found out about her disease during an annual health check up.
I had been putting this check up off for many months, simply out of inertia. There is also an underlying attitude that I had that the doctors will simply prescribe needless tests and medicines if I got tested. However, I had several symptoms for many years, which pointed to cervical cancer or at least the beginning of abnormal cells. I had visited doctors at least three times with complaints of excessive bleeding and severe pains. But unfortunately, none of the doctors I visited, even once, asked me to get a PAP smear done. I was asked to get a USG scan done and prescribed progressively stronger pain killers.
Finally Vandana realized that she was consuming an entire strip of pain killers in 2 days without getting any relief. This is when she went to get a full health check up done.
I have, of course, been aware that I should have got a PAP smear done every other year, but since gynaecologists who examined me, did not insist on it, I too did not volunteer. Part of the fault is mine, that I did not put my health ahead of all my other commitments; home, family, work etc. This combined with a slightly callous attitude to health made me neglect myself.
Vandana tells Credihealth that it wasn’t difficult for her to find good doctors although she did need to do a lot of research to find the right doctors.
Where I was definitely unlucky was in all those years, the gynaecologists I visited did not ask me to do a PAP smear, which could have caught the disease before it even became a full blown cancer.
Vandana, a cancer survivor, brings a highly valid question into the picture. She tells us that no doctor asked her to get her children immunized against HPV, to reduce their chances of getting infected. If this has happened in a big city like Delhi/NCR, how many women in smaller places and villages do not get diagnosed on time?
Vandana feels strongly that all women in India must definitely put their health at the top of their priority list.
We tend to put ourselves last and end up suffering for it. Also we need to make sure our children get immunized against HPV. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions! I didn’t ask any of my doctors why I should not have a PAP smear, & it rebounded on me.
Eat clean, exercise, stop smoking, try to keep your environment as chemical free as possible and look after yourself.
But most importantly, cancer need not be a death sentence.
The only way to stay ahead of the disease is to catch it early.
Vandana warns us against quacks and faith healers who try to sell their “magical treatments” to people suffering from cancer.
Vandana’s piece of advice for everyone reading this –
Any symptoms that persist beyond a week or so need a doctors attention. Here again, we need to make sure we get screened with a PAP smear every other year as recommended for our age group.