Hi, my name is Chitrika de Mel, I am from Sri Lanka and am a breast Cancer survivor.
I'm sharing my story to support others who have been diagnosed with NCDs and to be of help to them through advocacy.
1 June 2022
My journey started in 2016 when I felt an unusual lump on my left breast. My family physician referred me to a private surgeon who could see me that day, unlike surgeons at the state hospital. The surgeon ordered a Fine Needle Biopsy, which confirmed it was cancer. It was with this surgeon that I underwent a mastectomy, before which he explained about post-operative care and my treatment plan. He also referred me to an oncologist. All this occurred in the private health sector, which I chose to avoid the long wait in the public health system. The private system was an affordable option for me, and I felt that choosing this route would give somebody else a better chance in the public system. My surgeon was excellent, and I had no issues with healing.
After surgery, we met the oncologist, also private, who explained my post-surgery treatment and took time to assure me that my treatment would be successful. The oncologist also assured my husband that I was in safe hands, and guided him on how to support me. This was necessary as we had a young family and needed to prepare the children on how to navigate this all together. It was a tough ride with eight cycles of chemotherapy, with the biggest challenges being my loss of hair and facing the outside world. Throughout my chemotherapy followed by radiation, my family reassured me I would be back to normal.
Over the next ten years my checkups, scans and blood reports were tedious to undertake but I went through it all - initially on a monthly basis, then every three months, six months and finally annually. Although I saw the oncologist privately, I had my treatment at the National Cancer Hospital as this was the best place to access the correct drugs. This was a bit difficult as there were so many patients waiting their turn, but it allowed me to experience the hard reality that others did.
If not for the support from my family, my doctors and the medical staff who were very attentive to my needs, I would not have been able to go through this journey. And now, volunteering with an organisation dealing with cancer patients, I’m able to support patients who come from far and wide with a kind word and smile and assure them that if we follow the advice of doctors, we can get through it all.
Raising a voice for the cause.
Chitrika De Mel, lived experience of cancer, Sri Lanka
About NCD DIARIES
The NCD Diaries use rich and immersive multimedia approaches to share lived experiences to drive change, using a public narrative framework.