I feel privileged to attend the inspirational talk by Ms.Sunita.It is not just a talk but the narration of the fight of a winner against the most malignant enemy of human-being i.e., the cancer cell.
Sunita was born and brought-up in Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh). She was passionate about movies right from her childhood.She used to bunk classes to catch Chiranjeevi's latest release.She developed a crush for Venkatesh after watching his movie "Swarna Kamalam".She used to go to school watching the movie posters on the walls and desired to become a film maker. She frequently dreamt of writing her autobiography which says on the last page that she made lot of movies and won an Oscar.But her family immigrated to America.This brought an imbalance to her life-style.No Chiranjeevi! No movie posters on the walls! Being a lover of the telugu language she experienced a huge culture shock.
Slowly she recovered from it and joined the rat race. She kept her dreams aside, accepting whatever came along her way. She did an MBA in marketing and joined Eastman Kodak. Her life was cool with a kewl job. Suddenly one day she realized that she has no reason to wake up. She questioned “Is that all enough? Am I following my dreams?" She decided to chase her dreams and enrolled herself into a film school. At the school, she befriended now successful directors like Nagesh Kukunoor and Shekhar Kammula.
After completing the course she came back to India. She got an opportunity to work with Suresh Productions (renowned Telugu movie production house). Initially she used to do any task assigned to her, however insignificant it may be. She knew that only those insignificant tasks can lead to her dream job of directing a movie. Her hard work blossomed and she made movies like Jayam Manadera, NeekuNenu NaakuNuvvu, Nuvvuleka Nenulenu etc., with Suresh productions. Not all of them were hits. She says it is important that a movie script should be acceptable to the target viewers. One of her movies had a scene in which the heroine slaps the hero; this was not well received by the audience. She took failures as stepping stones and kept moving ahead.
She was at the peak of her career. One day while taking bath she felt a lump under her arm. She consulted a doctor. The doctor (whom she calls ‘an angel’) suggested that it was not so serious but she had to wait in the hospital for one or two days. She obliged the doctor although she felt that it was ridiculous as the doctor herself told that there was nothing serious about it. Later, the doctor revealed to her utter dismay that she was suffering from Cancer. She was then in the third stage of cancer. The first question came to her mind was Why me? But she accepted the fate and decided to fight it. She never wanted to write in the last page of her autobiography that Sunita died of Cancer.She always wanted to write that Sunita made lots and lots of movies and won oscars.
She did her own research.Let me write a bit about What I understood of cancer from her talk and from the site of NCI.Cancer is not just one disease but many diseases. There are more than 100 different types of cancer. The main categories of cancer include: Carcinoma ,Sarcoma,Leukemia(Sunita was affected by this category),Lymphoma and myeloma,Central nervous system cancers.All cancers begin in cells.These cells grow and divide in a controlled way to produce more cells as they are needed to keep the body healthy. When cells become old or damaged, they die and are replaced with new cells.But sometimes this orderly process goes wrong. The genetic material (DNA) of a cell can become damaged or changed, producing mutations that affect normal cell growth and division. When this happens, cells do not die when they should and new cells form when the body does not need them. The extra cells may form a mass of tissue called a tumor(the lump she observed).Not all tumors are cancerous.Unfortunately sunita's tumor was cancerous one.Cancer is diagnosed using biopsy.Once diagnosed the cancer stage can be known.William Stewart Halsted (father of American surgery) proposed the model of cancer progression.According to it tumors grow locally(at the primary source i.e., the part of the body in which the cancer started ;first two stages),then spread to the lymph nodes(third stage,sunita was diagnosed at this stage),then to the rest of the body(final stage,here chances of survival are almost nill).Coming to the treatment there are methods like surgery,Chemotherapy etc.,But they cannot guarantee success.What proved helpful is indomitable determination of the patient and selfless service of the patient's relations in addition to the above treatment methods.I know 4-5 cases where these two magical tools helped.Of course it's easier said than done.
Let me elaborate a little on Chemotherapy.Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with drugs ("anticancer drugs") that can destroy cancer cells (source:Wikipedia).Chemo kills , not just cancer cells but any cell even healthy cells that come in its way.Damage to healthy cells may cause side effects.These include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss, mouth sores,pain,lack of proper emotional reaction,infertility in the case of women etc.,Sunita says that she didn't have goosebumps since four years even after recovery.
She underwent the rigorous treatment.She lost her hair,eyebrows.At times she used to crawl to the bathroom.Still she continued working on her movie.Her schedule typically included chemo in the morning,film-making in the evening.I don't know how she managed.Hats off to her.Her work,well wishers around her,writings of Jiddu Krishnamurthy and Jasmine flowers were the inspirational elements for her during the bad period.She fought bravely.She made it.She won the war against her malicious enemy.
After getting recovered she introspected herself.She reviewed all her years of life.Before coming to movies she struggled to live.After coming to movies she was following her dream.Some where amidst her aspirations she feels that the 'I' is neglected.She lost 18 kgs in 2 months.She neglected taking it as a positive sign.But it was an indication of the enemy growing inside her.She says that Cancer is the last stage the soul resorts to, in its effort to make one listen to it.She dragged the soul to the last stage for which she suffered.She humbly requests everyone not to reflect that 'I'.She suggested an exercise,"As soon as you wake up from the bed,Go stand infront of the mirror and say to yourselves I LOVE YOU".
Her advice to everyone, "Love yourselves.Take care of your health.Your ambitions and aspirations will also be taken care by themselves."
She worked with TV9.She designed the famous show "9PM with Raviprakash".Now she is the head (operations) of Radiomirchi, SouthIndia .Being a strong believer of God she feels that she is God's gift to her dad.Her dad proudly agrees it.
My fundamental value is also the same although I dont practice "I LOVE YOU" exercise.I believe that happiness is panacea.It is I who must choose to be happy.