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Chemotherapy drugs should be made cheaper: Manisha Koirala

Manisha Koirala talks a little louder these days. Every word is clearly pronounced and a lot of energy is put behind what she speaks. The Manisha Koirala that I see today is a far cry from the one I new knew before her cancer surgery.
Getting her to talk post her return from New York was not easy. She was not well, she was jet-lagged and she didn’t fancy speaking to the media anymore.
I had been trying to speak to her right from the time she landed in New York and every time, I was told that she was not keeping well. Knowing her condition, I didn’t press much.
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I was in a local train on the Harbour line of Mumbai when my phone rang. On the other end of the line was Manisha Koirala.
I’ll reproduce a part of the conversation that I had with her over the next half an hour…
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Hi, is this Shomaya Dwittiya? (this is how she pronounces the name) I am Manisha

Hi! Is this your new number? I actually don’t have this number saved…

 I always had this number, I never used it before. All’s well with you?

I should be asking you this. How are you feeling to be back in Mumbai?

 You know that feeling when you come back home after a long business trip…after you are suddenly put in an unfamiliar surrounding for a long time, you stay in unfamiliar weather, eat unfamiliar food and do unfamiliar things… and then one day you come back home? It’s like coming back to your mom. It’s a strange kind of balm on the mind. It’s a feeling that you wouldn’t be able to explain.

More than ‘unfamiliar’, it was a hell of a struggle…

Please don’t call it a struggle. I would rather say that it was a life changing experience for me. It has made me a newer and a positive person. Today, I am thankful to be breathing in this world, thankful for God taking care of me, thankful that so many people were around me when I was going through the toughest of times. People who I held so close to my heart were rallying around me when I was down. I am really happy that lakhs of people used to send me messages on Facebook and Twitter everyday. Yes, I was going through an experience that changed my life…

But Manisha, a lot of people close to you never really bothered to find out how you were…

Look you can either look at the glass half full or say that the glass is half empty. I would rather say that the glass is always full. People who I always considered my friends were there by my side. God is there by my side. My fans were there by me. So, life was a happy space when I was going through my treatment.

But you were alone, all by yourself, for six months in New York with nobody around you except for two friends and your family members…

 The New York weather can get very depressing at times as the sky used to be overcast. I used to look out of my window and take pictures on my phone. I posted some of the pictures online. I used to read the lovely mails that by my fans sent me. I used to feel their warmth. The post surgery recuperation was hard because there are a lot of changes that you have to make to your lifestyle. There was a Punjabi doctor who was taking care of me and she told me that the biggest killer today is stress. The more stressed you are, the more you are prone to cancer. The first positive change was to make myself stress free and be cheerful. It was hard because chemotherapy is known to induce depression but I fought hard. It was really tough to lie on the bed and tell yourself that you will be okay soon. But I managed. I kept telling my fans how I was doing (on Facebook and Twitter). There were times when I was down, but the next day I was up again. And look here, I am talking to you and I am cancer free today.

Do you agree that because you are Manisha Koirala you could afford that treatment. Cancer treatment still remains out of a common man’s reach…

Chemotherapy is difficult and an expensive treatment to go through. It damages your hair follicles (you become bald) and it makes a lot of changes in your body. It is a type of toxin (poison) that destroys a lot of things inside your body. Yes, it is a very expensive treatment and a lot of people in India still cannot afford the treatment. That is why there is a strong need to make chemotherapy drugs affordable for the public.

I read a photo-essay recently about people living on the pavements outside Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai just to get treated there. They live on the pavements because they cannot get a bed inside the hospitals and some cannot afford it. It was a heart-wrenching story. I have decided that when I am able to gather the resources, I will do something for making cancer treatment affordable to people. I want to form a peer group, who can arrange money for cancer patients who cannot afford cancer treatment. More than individual people, corporate houses need to join hands and make cancer treatment more affordable. I am going to work towards it, I promise.

I heard you are writing a book on your life. When do you plan to come out with it? Are you also planning to blog like Lisa Ray?

The book is well on its course. I am looking for a publisher for the book. I want to write a blog but first I want to write the book on surviving cancer. Basically, whatever I learnt in New York, I want to dispense that knowledge to everybody in India. There are a lot of small changes in your life that can make a big change to your body’s system. I want to write about it in the form of a book and then may be put some of my opinions on a blog. The book will come first and then the blog. Will tell you when I find a publisher.

Have you given up partying completely?

 I have become a different person. I don’t allow myself to do late-nights. I keep to myself most of the time. I meditate a lot. I like contemplating.

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Well, those were the relevant portions.
Before we go, here is Manisha Koirala’s first televised interview. Like a lot of you, I too was in school when I first watched her on television. Enjoy the video.
The previous post on Manisha Koirala -> Manisha Koirala, Rituparno Ghosh and Cancer
Short-link of the post -> http://wp.me/p3x1zT-nr

3 replies »

  1. m too agree wid manisha mam bcz maximum people of India r poor n bcz of da high rate of cancer treatment dey cannot dream of taking any treatment,dey dies….the government of India is supplying many schemes,dey shud too try to make such schemes fr da poor n backward people’s.

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