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Anjali Johny: On Managing Anxiety With Baking

Anjali Managing Anxiety

The Beginning

I am extremely sensitive about my relationships. Back in school, my friends and family mattered more than the ranks and grades I was awarded for my consistent performance. I noticed that my academic credentials made everyone happy. That was my cue; I put myself under tremendous pressure to the extent that my grades dropped and I failed in one of the exams. This pushed me into a cycle of self doubt and frustration. Anxiety kicked in at the slightest of discomfort. I built an unhealthy cycle with anxiety in the desperation to make others happy.

Managing Anxiety

After months of not being able to eat or sleep, I broke down sometime towards the final year of my engineering education. I called up my teacher from school and vented out. She advised I drop anything that doesn’t make me happy. I wanted to start afresh. In spite of the knowledge that it is going to upset my parents terribly, I quit engineering and took up a course in literature. This became my escape; friends and faculty there were too kind. Many understood my struggle with anxiety and put me in touch with a counsellor. Gradually, my parents started coming around to accept my decision.

Anjali Managing Anxiety

Discovering Baking

My grandmother had been my rock through it all. Her fondness for cooking drew me into the kitchen. With her encouragement, I took up baking. The business started thriving, but it was a bit too much for the rest of the family. From engineering to arts/literature and now baking, they thought I am lost and wasting time. The anxiety started kicking in again and grew after my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer.

Helping her through, was one of the toughest things I had to do. I secured admission at the best (arguably) culinary school in the world, but I couldn’t leave my grandma when she needed me the most. We lost her last year.

Over the past few months, I have noticed my unhealthy habits and managed to follow a schedule that helps me keep my focus. Baking has and will always be my solace. I have my dark days, but I am learning to see the light. Leaving anxiety behind is going to take a while, but I am developing the patience now.

Anjali Managing Anxiety

Life can be as pretty and sweet as cakes, we must build a society sensitive enough to understand and reach out.

All images sourced from bakesalotlady.com

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Saurabh Nimbkar: Cancer, Loss and Music of Hope

Saurabh music of hope

On His Mother’s Diagnosis

As a family we were close and well off. Sudden financial crisis forced my parents to sell our house. My father disappeared with the money leaving my mother to look after her two sons.

The pressure was immense. We were literally on the streets. My mother worked extremely hard to provide for us. Everything was a challenge; be it my college fees or putting food on the plate. Mom worked through it all. My elder brother got a job abroad and things started looking slightly brighter.

Saurabh music of hope

Somewhere around that time, mom started feeling uneasy. But like every other mother, she popped pills and carried on with work. When things looked alarming, we decided to run a few tests. She was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Our world came crashing down. I was in college, my brother came down, but we didn’t have the courage to break the news to her. We convinced her to begin with the treatment inspire of her tremendous resistance. My mother bore the pain of a bone marrow test, and tolerated the side effects of chemotherapy with patience. The treatment ended, but as fate would have it, the cancer relapsed and we lost her.

Media, Celebrities and the Music of Hope

During the course of her treatment, I’d often play songs on my guitar for her and the rest of the patients. After her demise, I often thought of those who probably couldn’t afford treatment at private hospitals just like us. I picked up my guitar and started playing in Mumbai locals to collect money and help the poor. RJ Malishka invited me to her radio show. Later, StarPlus featured me in one of their shows that was hosted by Amitabh Bachchan sir. He travelled in the trains with me and sang songs.

Saurabh music of hope

My desire has just grown threefold now. Today, I collaborate with corporates for my performances. We are able to raise over ten times the money I could from the trains. I am able to help several with this music of hope.

I miss my mother each day. Anyone in my place would question nature’s justice and I am no different. But, my mother’s love and blessings fuel my drive. Every person deserves a chance at a better treatment facility, I am playing my part to ensure just that.

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Sarat Addanki: Reintroducing Ayurveda for Cancer

Sarat Ayurveda for cancer

On his Mother and Cancer

I have been associated with Computer Science and Engineering for over 25 years. Sometime, in the midst of building a life in this industry, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. It came as an absolute shock. I tried to understand the experiences of caregivers during the course of my mother’s treatment. It was extremely painful. She went through intensive rounds of chemotherapy and the side effects left her weak and in indescribable pain. At some point she wanted to give up. I felt lost and helpless. Despite of our best efforts, we could not save her.

On Medicine, Ayurway and Ayurveda for Cancer

Losing my mother to cancer changed something deep inside me. The problem is that there is so little we know about the disease. We don’t know how to provide care and reach out to patients. In a bet to provide some support and make a difference, I started studying Ayurveda. It was in order to understand its benefits and place within the paradigm of cancer. Later, I earned a degree in Ayurveda at the California college of Ayurveda.

Sarat Ayurveda for cancer

In the meantime, I founded my brain child Ayurway . It is a wellness centre, which focuses on achieving holistic health through integrative and preventive approach. Ayurveda is known to ease the pain and side effects from chemotherapy and radiation without interfering with conventional treatment. Apart from Ayurveda, we integrate Western Herbology, Panchkarma, Aroma Therapy, Mental Imagery, Music Therapy etc. These bring in new perspective towards cancer prevention and care.

Sarat Ayurveda for cancer

Reaching out to the Community

We have a centre in Pleasanton, California and a clinic in Hyderabad. They are for anyone who is looking for help to relieve stress, anxiety and depression that may or may not be the result of cancer. We focus on nutrition and diet as well.

Over the past few years, I also set up a social responsibility team. Together, we set up several cancer conferences and food distribution programs.

Sarat Ayurveda for cancer

My ultimate goal is to ensure that no one wishes to give up on life. No matter what the problem is, no one should feel that way. I am here to help with Ayurway, Ayurveda for cancer cure is a very real possibility.

You can book an appointment at ayurway.com

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Senthil’s Sweet Truth Behind Wholesome Rhapsody

Senthil Wholesome Rhapsody

On Association with Cancer

I have had a long association with cancer research. My first assignment was as a senior research fellow of experimental therapeutic oncology for stem cells at Manipal University. I worked as a visiting academic at Curtin University in Australia. I secured an admission with Sheffield university in UK to study for a super specialization degree in translational oncology. Cooking and alternative treatments have always attracted me. Back in Australia, I baked a cake for a potluck party. It was the first time I’d ever baked a cake and everyone loved it.

I started experimenting with food on my return as I wanted to avoid consuming flour and sugar. I started making small changes in my food. Drawing from my experience in molecular cancer biology, paired with research based evidence from reliable sources, I started creating cancer- friendly desserts.

Senthil Wholesome Rhapsody

On Founding Wholesome Rhapsody

I didn’t intend to commercialise it in the beginning. As my friends and family truly appreciated my efforts, I took a chance and came up with Wholesome Rhapsody, a kitchen for healthy desserts. Now, i am not a trained chef. I took a break in between for my study in U.K . Back there, I’d get messages inquiring about the cakes. It built my confidence.

Senthil Wholesome Rhapsody

Today, Wholesome Rhapsody (healthy ecstasy) serves customised cakes to individuals with cancer and other underlying health conditions. I ensure that the recipes are rich in cancer-fighting flavonoids, fibre and antioxidants. The in-house special ‘Mammary Love‘ brownie is made with ragi, coconut and almond flour. Their low oestrogen levels are crucial for individuals with breast and cervical cancer. I tend to use green tea, turmeric and other ingredients that help fight inflammation and tumors. It is my goal is to develop deserts for any disease with whole foods. One could be managing chemotherapy/radiation, diabetes or simply follows a keto diet, there’s a guilt free dessert for everyone.

Senthil Wholesome Rhapsody

I believe that if whole foods are used correctly, they can replace mainstream desserts. Cancer or not, everyone deserves a good (healthy) dessert.

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Sheetal Hirani: Bald is Beautiful

On Advocating Bald is Beautiful

A head full of hair has been a poignant contributing factor to define a woman’s beauty.

Over the years, I have seen cancer survivors, especially women, fight the ‘stigma’ of a bald head. Bald is beautiful is hardly a concept in India. The moment one loses hair after chemotherapy, they stop feeling beautiful, desired and loved. It had been a long standing dream to do something about it, but the usual rigmarole of life pushed the thought on the back burner.

sheetal bald is beautiful

Couple of weeks ago, I saw myself in the mirror and a strong desire flooded my entire being. I shaved; went bald. When I stepped out of the room, my parents and family were taken aback momentarily. When I explained I did it to stand in solidarity with cancer patients, they understood. It wasn’t easy to do what I did, but I kept thinking about all those women who have to battle the disease and the unrealistic beauty standards of our society each day.

Donating Hair for a Cause

Some friends guided me and in a few days I will neatly pack my hair in an envelope and send it to an organisation that makes wigs for cancer patients.

Sheetal bald is beautiful

Yes, I could have donated money, I could have donated a few inches of my hair, but that wouldn’t have been enough for me. I want to walk around with my head held high, I want to smile at people who point in my direction and to the countless questions society has asked me about my decision I want to ask them if they would have asked all those questions to a man.

Beauty is who you are. I believe humans evolve with experiences. These experiences are a window to their soul. That, to me, is beautiful.

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