Meet the cancer survivor who is offering the cancer survivors a reason to live comfortable lives.
“We often get so exhausted in our own miseries and in questioning God over privilege and luck, that we do not realize how much mettle we have inside to cope up with difficulties. I focused on my potential, on my substance, because that is all I had control over. I couldn’t control luck, chance or my circumstances, but I had complete control over what I was willing to protect myself and my dear ones” – these are not the words from any personality development book. They are straight from the experiences of Anchal Sharma – the name that is synonymous with thumping willpower. When life gives us troubles, we face them with fighting spirit. But ehen life keeps on testing your fighting spirit every time you cross an obstacle? Once, twice, thrice, quarce, quince – if it never stops? From facing financial constrains in childhood that forced her to quit studies to fighting cancer and helping others in her way, this woman of strong spine presents to us, her story today, that tells us why we should never give up in life, no matter what we go through.
When Life Becomes A Punching Bag:
Born to Surendra Sharma and Chaman Devi, Anchal Sharma has two brothers and a sister. Her father was an auto-rickshaw driver and mother was a house wife. In order to increase the family income, her father sold the autorickshaw and bought a van to ferry students from Bhatnagar International School. For an ‘unfair reason’, he lost his job and since then, whatever trials he made to find a job, all went in vain. This helplessness made him an alcoholic and the responsibility of the family fell on Chaman Devi, who started to work hard in a factory. Unfortunately, she also lost her job one day. “There were days when we would starve all day, on some days we were lucky enough to manage chapattis with red chilies to satiate our hunger”, recollects Anchal. She and her brother left studies in 8th and 9th grades respectively. While her brother worked as a mechanic in a garage, Anchal started working as a receptionist at a stock market trading firm for a pay of Rs.4000. “But the money wasn’t good enough to sustain the family, hence I had to switch my job to an export house where I worked as a sampler”, she mentioned. The job at the export house gave her some exposure and she got to meet a lot of influential people at work. Through these interactions, she understood the money potential in real estate business and switched her job. Talking about her experience in the real estate business, she said, “The real estate business demanded more time and effort. I would start my day at 7:30 am, travel to Gurgaon from Delhi in public transport busses, and spend 8 hours (9 am to 5 pm) standing outside Bhaskar Group building in the pursuit to close business dealings. My efforts paid off and I started making decent money, only until fate intervened and I got cheated by the Broker of the company as he refused my incentives worth Rs.2,50,000”. Life has been testing her patience but Anchal didn’t give up on it. She joined the Gee Dee reality brokerage firm as a receptionist where the owner of the firm, Harvinder Saluja recognised her hard work and hired her as a broker on profit-sharing basis. With her earnings, she could rent an apartment in Saket, Delhi and shifted her family from the small single room. While she was expecting that things were falling into place, her sister, who married the person she loved, with the help of Anchal but against the will of parents, was murdered by her husband five months after marriage. This devastated Anchal and her family – Anchal began to fight for justice in the court of law, during which time, she kept receiving threats. Owing to this incident, with the pressure from relatives and others that Anchal wouldn’t ever get married, her parents got her married off forcibly to a handicapped man from Jharsa village in Gurgaon. “My relatives and society had convinced my family that due to our recent past, no normal person would marry me. After marriage, my new in-laws had their eyes only for my money, which I was making decently well by this time. A lot of my funds were used in my sister’s court case, which my husband and his family were strictly against. When I refused to give them more money than I wished, my husband resorted to physical abuse”, she narrated her plight when life again threw lemons at her. Her family was not ready to get Anchal divorced after what has happened with their elder daughter. The result? Anchal had to live in an abusive relationship. But things started to go so bad that one day, physical abuse by her husband left Anchal unconscious. This led Anchal to file for divorce which was granted in 2008. Well, this woman who freed herself with courage, from the clutches of violence, wanted to build a house in the small piece of land she bought with her earnings. She built a house but even that didn’t last long. The house got demolished by MCD right in front of her eyes and the property was sealed. “All my savings were blown in the air with that demolition and I was broken again”, she shared. Later, even while Anchal is still trying to come to terms with what happened to her, her mother fell sick. Upon checking, she was diagnosed with cabbage worm in brain that paralyzed her right hand for a couple of months, the treatment for which lasted for two and a half years during which time, her elder brother got married which only shot up their troubles. “My sister-in-law ill- treated my mother, due to which my mother, who was already weak and brutally tormented by her circumstances, was hospitalized many times. Eventually, my brother had to get a divorce from her”, shares Anchal with a heavy heart. In 2015, Anchal’s father was diagnosed with Tuberculosis and all of a sudden Anchal realised that she has got one more ailing person to take care of. “It took him more than a year to recover and lead a normal life again”, she said.
Finding Herself In The Rut of A Life-threating Disease:
Yes, the bone is strong but that doesn’t mean you keep hitting it harder and harder. It breaks one day. That’s what happened with Anchal. Her strong mind kept telling her that she is strong enough to endure all the negativity, solve every puzzle in front of her and led her forward. But for how long? There came a point where her body that tried beyond limits to cope with the stress till then, refused to take it any longer. Well, it was during her brother’s wedding preparations and after Anchal finished blowing candles on her birthday cake that she noticed a lump in her breast. She sought homeopathy medicine which didn’t help. She eventually couldn’t play the sports she would regularly play as the pain got worse, swelling her arms. One of her friends suggested that it needs proper medical attention and instantly got her an appointment in a hospital. After a few tests, Anchal was diagnosed with 3rd stage breast cancer. “But I am yet to live my life. This can’t be it.”, she thought to herself.
Dressed Up To See The Doctor:
Daunting chemo sessions and surgeries that have no end would make anyone exhausted. Anchal chose to wear great dress, suited makeup along with a glowing curve on her lips to attend the chemo sessions. The gloomy atmosphere of the chemotherapy waiting hall was always illuminated with her jokes and amusing stories and the hospital staff would be amazed at the kind of positivity she radiated. “I endured numerous sessions of chemotherapy, spinal taps, surgeries, and life-threatening infections with aplomb and positivity”, she said.
Helping Others Heal Through CanHeal:
“You can either fight with the fear of losing or fight with the confidence of winning. I chose the latter and it not only helped me fight the disease but also helped those around me also live their lives while I was undergoing the period of uncertainty during the early days of cancer treatment.”, she said, adding that helping others in their battle against cancer has then become the mission of her life. She began with conducting motivational sessions at various hospitals in Delhi while undergoing the treatment herself. “The positive response from my fellow patients encouraged me to further expand my offerings.”, she said. All during her treatment, she noticed that there is no offline or online outlet where the special needs of cancer fighters can be met. People who could buy global products were able to get the right personal care products, clothing and accessories that helped in their fight against cancer. What about those who couldn’t? That’s how CanHeal was born. “I first started creating those products – for example, I created for myself stylish dresses, which were chemotherapy friendly, and skin creams for proper hydration of dry and chapped skin”, she said. She then came across several such Indian products which were very useful for cancer fighters and contacted their manufacturers. “One thing led to another and the outcome was is in front of you and the world in the form of the CanHeal portal, the only one of its kind that offers a vast range of products to meet the special needs of cancer fighters and winners”, she mentions. Through CanHeal, Anchal’s main motto is to make the fight against cancer easier for every patient. It aims to provide a range of products catering to the needs of cancer patients, at a reasonable price, with the ease and comfort of ordering from home along with the assurance of safety. Thus, CanHeal emerged as an e-commerce portal that provides products which are organic and 100% chemical free. The products include the required Skincare, Body care, Hair care, Clothing & Accessories, nutraceuticals, Healthy Foods, Lingerie and Prosthesis. “Many leading brands are already available on the portal and more will be joining with time. This will ensure that the cancer patients are not deprived of any of the products they need during and after the treatment.”, she explains.
Happy Little Tummies:
On returning from one of her doctor visits, Anchal was stuck at a traffic signal where she noticed child beggars. Instead of giving them money, she offered them food and took them to a restaurant. “Due to social stigma, some of the guests at the restaurant left after seeing these kids dining in the same place as them. Disgusted, I sat down with the poor kids and talked to them about their life and how they survive”, she said. That incident gave Anchal, the drive to do something about the pressing problem of hunger in the country. She began to cook meals at home with her mother’s help and distributed them to slum kids. Eventually, people who got connected with her cause, offered their support either by donating money, essentials or by volunteering. Slowly, as she realised that the magnitude of hunger is really big, she laid foundations to her NGO, Meals of Happiness and got it registered with the government. She then began to seek donations and within a couple of months over 200 kids were fed. So far, MOH has successfully made more than one lakh tummies happy. “On many occasions, MOH has raised funds for medical needs of people living in slums and has also helped poor girls get married”, she added. After realising that slum children are malnourished, Anchal thought that more than thali, its milk that would fill nutrients in their body and thus began to distribute milk to them.
Her Words of Value:
After all that she endured and has been enduring still, Anchal thanks God for throwing struggles at her, for, it is those hurdles that transformed into what she is today. “I care for the society and wish to eradicate hunger and malnourishment among the slum kids. I have a purpose, and it is this purpose that makes me stronger by the day”, she says with pride gleaming on her cheeks. To all those who are troubled by cancer and other life-threatening issues, anchal says, “Be positive and confident. Have the spirit of a fighter who starts the fight with the passion to win. And live life to the fullest – don’t agree to make a change to your life and lifestyle, the disease will be forced to change its path and you will always be the winner”.
It's great to learn the lessons from the diary of a fighter. The lessons are worth more than those from any textbook because they are written and said out of experiences. Thank you Anchal Sharma for teaching that poverty need not hold us back, abuse need not end our life, distorted families need not crumble us, a disease need not cripple us. Thanks for showing the sobbing world that every tear can be made sugary.
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