Dear Cancer | Dr. Deepa Halaharvi

Dear Cancer,

I have a bone to pick with you. You came into my life after I had just finished 10 years of training to become a breast surgeon. I was waiting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but instead felt like I got hit by a train. To be honest, I never liked you in the first place. That was the reason I became a breast surgeon: to help others who are affected by this disease.

Dr. Halaharvi photo
Dr. Deepa Halaharvi, breast cancer survivor and breast cancer surgeon

Up until my diagnosis of cancer, I felt like I had control of my life—I did whatever I wanted to do, and I became a surgeon in spite of other challenges against me. Because of you, I cried every day for the first few months. I felt like an uninvited stranger took over my life, and I lost control. My life is changed forever. Every night when I went to bed, I would pray that this was a nightmare. You have not only affected my life, but also countless other women who were minding their own business. You have attacked the nicest people I know. You take away people’s joy and happiness. At first I was very angry, sad, and depressed, but then one day I realized that you are the best thing that has happened to me.

Because of you, I have grown, and my character has developed. I have learned about ‘being in the present’ and cherishing time with my family and friends. I have learned about the world I live in, about relationships, about loyalty, about trust, about faith, and about never ending hope. Because of you, I pray more intently, and I hug my kids more tightly. Because of you, I am stronger. I persevered, and because of you, I have found my purpose in life.

I am so fortunate to have patients who inspire me every day with their great attitude, joy, and hope. They make me want to be a better person everyday.

We have come long ways in the treatment of breast cancer.  Even though it is the most common type of cancer in women, the survival rates are better than ever before—up from 75% (1975) to 91% (2010) for all stages of breast cancer. Because of my own experience with cancer, my medical practice has changed drastically. The biggest change I see in myself is that I am very empathetic with my patients when they complain of pain: I feel their pain in my chest. I call them back with the biopsy results the minute I find out (regardless of weeknights or weekends), as I know how it feels to wait. I listen deeply to their complaints and make them a priority on a daily basis. Moreover, when I am taking care of them, I feel that I am serving God.

Cancer, you have no place in our lives.  There will be a day when we will have vaccines and other preventative measures. You are not going to affect future generations. You will be a thing of the past.

Goodbye, Cancer.

Sincerely,

Dr. Deepa Halaharvi, Breast Cancer Survivor and Breast Cancer Surgeon

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9 thoughts on “Dear Cancer | Dr. Deepa Halaharvi

  1. U ARE MY DOCTOR AND IM SO GREATFUL FOR U SORRY THAT U HAD TO GO THREW BREAST CANCER U ARE A WONDERFUL DOCTOR AND A VERY CARING PERSON IM SURE I SPEAK FOR ALL THE WOMEN U TAKE CARE OF THANK U SO MUCH

  2. Thanks for the post and your dedication. Your message is very inspiring. Keep up the good work. Best wishes!!!

  3. I am a breast cancer survivor like you my experience was more over like yours . My cancer treatment and the path taught me how to pray and what to ask for
    I have more meaning in my life . I trust in God I wake up with him, walk with hi m . Life is peaceful and I am enjoying . Good luck with your profession,family and your patient population

  4. I am too a proud victim who won the battle and have crowned myself with joy, courage and almost all the goodness i can have. Iam a mother of a six year old boy and was diagnosed 2 yrs back.
    I understood who are the people that are loyal and truely loving. But never again should i come accross..
    Hope the medical afvancements will wipe away many others sorrow and tears.

    Congtats and wish you long life to serve many victims.

  5. I love your story as a person and as a doctor. It inspires me very much .I am a 2 mts survivor I did not let it affected me cause God is greater than that .I am for all that you talked about .may God gives you more courage each day as you do your job .God bless

  6. Dr. Deepa,
    My heartiest congratulations to you for your brave ness in challenging the cancer.
    Your letter is so heart touching and you have covered in it every thing the past, present and future.
    your service and the courage you are giving to others is exceptional.

    It would be very nice of you if you can as a Cancer specialist and cancer survivor give suggestions for preventing
    the cancer and the root causes for it.

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