A collaborative event with Manisha Koirala and Times Lit Fest set the session on a moving note. Actor Manisha Koirala, who won a tough battle against ovarian cancer, has very profound thoughts to share with us.
The dreaded disease, ovarian cancer has changed her as a person, she is now kinder and values her life and health more.
The response haled the audience who endorsed her presence at PTI on the sidelines of the Jaipur Literature Festival.
Cancer did bring out the best of her, she discussed her book “Healed: How Cancer Gave Me a New Life”. which opens with the sentence “I don’t want to die“.
She said cancer had made her kinder, gentler and had taught her that “we are all interconnected and intertwined”.
Little did she know that a storming experience could change her life for the better. Does this mean, cancer is a blessing in disguise? Not always!
The 48-year-old actor from Nepal said in her own words, “
I took my life for granted. I neglected my health, that is why cancer came to me as a teacher, it came to me as a lesson. I value my life more now, love my family, value my health because I realised if one is not healthy, one cannot enjoy any aspect of living”.
When the secret was out:
The journey from 2012, ever since Manisha Koirala was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it was a different view to life. Little gestures of love, emotions and an act of kindness weighed more importance in her life.
She said, “When I was sick, I was searching for positive stories. I could not get many stories, except the success story of (actor) Lisa Ray and (cricketer) Yuvraj Singh, who came out fighting successfully with cancer.”
Adding to this, “The thought of death is the first thing that comes to mind when a person is diagnosed with cancer. I was utterly shocked when I came to know about the disease. It was the loneliest night. Even a familiar journey from Kathmandu to Mumbai which I had taken umpteen times felt so different”.
She overcame the pain and broke the glass of cliché beauty, saying, “When I was sick, I was searching for positive stories. I could not get many stories, except the success story of (actor) Lisa Ray and (cricketer) Yuvraj Singh, who came out fighting successfully with cancer,” So I decided that when I recover, I will share my stories with people. I also believe that sharing helps lower the burden from your head and heart. Hence, I wrote the book,” she said.
After knowing that the cancer treatment was expensive in India, she made up her mind. Manisha wanted to spread more awareness about cancer and its journey in India.
“It is important to take your own decisions and take control of yourself rather than relying on others, and it is absolutely vital to have information about the disease,” she said.
Talking about the support she received, Manisha said although many strangers turned up and helped a great deal, yet the all-important emotional support came from her mother.
Come in terms:
Looks like death questions everyone’s purpose.
I had to make peace with my death. I made a promise to myself that if I get to live again, I will spread awareness about cancer… It is the perception of the problem that matters. You can take it as a challenge or see it as something that you cannot overcome,” said Manisha, who is a goodwill ambassador for the UN Population Fund.
“It would be nice if women go out and prove themselves, make a statement for themselves and make it known that they deserve something rather than playing a victim card,” she said.
To a question on her biopic, she said, “I still have a lot to do so that an interesting movie is made on my life… I will continue acting as I am in love with films and acting.”
Born into the prominent Koirala family in Nepal, Manisha made her Bollywood debut with “Saudagar” in 1991 and went on to act in films like “1942: A Love Story”, “Akele Hum Akele Tum”, “Bombay”, “Khamoshi: The Musical”, “Dil Se”, “Mann”, “Lajja” and “Company”.
She took a break from acting in 2012 and returned five years later with the coming-of-age drama “Dear Maya”, Netflix’s “Lust Stories” and “Sanju”.
In India, unlike other factors, cancer doesn’t victimise the patient alone but the entire family.
I felt very guilty for putting my family in this situation, I did feel, oh my god, because of me they are suffering. But my parents, family, friends mattered a lot. They continuously gave me positive talk, encouragement, the right information. I realized that my cancer made my family much closer.
Now when we are going through a difficult time, we think, if we could get through that, we can get through anything. Cancer happens to one person, but it affects the entire family. You grow as a person and learn to really honour your body and your life,” she said.