Bollywood actress Sonali Bendre becomes the inspiration for millions with her fight against cancer.
The 44-year-old actor was diagnosed with high-grade cancer last year and had to undergo treatment in New York. She returned home in December and has resumed work.
On Day 2 of India Today Conclave 2, Sonali Bendre spoke about her journey with cancer. She described how the news prompted her to question her lifestyle and thoughts, so much so that she sought the help of a psychiatrist in New York.
She said, “Everyone said, ‘Your lifestyle was never like that. How did it happen to you?’ I actually thought that it was me doing something wrong and that I have caused it. I went to a psychiatrist in New York. I was like, I don’t understand what is happening to me. I’m not a negative person, I have a lot of positive thoughts. Am I being delusional? Do I actually have negative thoughts and I am burying it so deep in my subconscious that I don’t realise it? I needed to understand what was happening to me.”
“The line that he said is the hoarding for me in my life. He said, ‘Sonali, cancer is caused by genetics or virus. If thoughts could cause or cure cancer, I would be the richest man on this earth because I deal with thoughts.’ It was like a weight was lifted off,” she said.
Sonali Bendre on Cancer diagnosis
Talking about her journey, she said, “I am still asking myself ‘Why I am doing it?’ Every time I feel fearful of something now, I do it. Fear no longer has any place in my life. I had forgotten to be fearless. I realised I was fearless. I came to an industry, I had no idea about. I came from a very middle class Maharashtrian family. It was a big step to get into movies. My family was shocked. But I was so fearless to make this decision. But I didn’t realise with time, I had become fearful, especially when I turned into a parent. For Goldie and me, it has been a journey of being fearless. Of course, the journey continues. The best part is I am alive and I am here, and I cannot thank the Universe enough.”
She said that the toughest part was surgery. She had been under the impression that she would’ve to do robotic (minimally invasive) surgery. “The doctors then told me that the cancer had spread so much that they had to cut me up. I now have a scar which is 20 inches on my midriff. I got so hyper about the scar on my body. I was so frightened of it. I didn’t know if I would come back or not.”
She added, “My sister hugged me when I was going for the surgery, I said “Don’t be dramatic, I’m coming back. But that part was painful, the thought that I might not be there for my son and family. I was happy when I came out of the hospital and said yes, I’m alive.”
On working again, she said, “I have reached a stage in my life when say I don’t know if I will work. I don’t feel insecure saying it. I don’t know what I am going to do next. Will I act in movies? Maybe. But there is definitely something out that there that I have to do, I wouldn’t be here otherwise. There is some purpose to it and I will find it. I will wait for it to show itself.”