I was 24 when I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), an aggressive form of blood cancer most commonly found in children. Since I had a high risk cancer, I was informed early on that a bone marrow transplant (BMT) was my only way out. Clueless and befuddled by the confusing medical jargon, I started treatment and educated myself about BMT. Since I am a single child, we had to look for an unrelated donor and I found mine in a Turkish lady based in Germany. She donated her marrow and saved my life. Countless rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and BMT left scars that took years to fade and some of the side effects are going to linger on for a lifetime. But I am alive and living a life as ‘normal’ as imaginable; that matters the most. It was after the publication of my book That Girl in the Black Hat and a TEDx talk in June 2019 that woke me up to the reality that I have been more blessed than I give it credit for. There are millions in this world who have been waiting for a marrow donor with no luck. I joined Datri, India’s largest bone marrow registry, as their Goodwill Ambassador and decided to help as many as I could. The Marrow Story is a culmination of these lived experiences. It is an attempt to promote marrow donation, but not limited to that. Cancer patients and survivors are often stigmatised for their medical history, given well meaning, but pointless advice and have been subjected to insensitive comments/reactions. TMS is an attempt to introduce cancer conversations into the mainstream; a dream to sensitize society about the disease and its effects on the patients. It is a steep hill to climb and I am growing stronger with each step.
When not talking about cancer, you will find me teaching or sharing a cup of coffee with my students, reading novels, cooking up a storm, writing essays and dreaming about chocolate.