By Arunima Singh
Manisha Koirala is a name that doesn’t need any introduction. Born in an eminent Koirala family of Nepal, she had a perfect launch in Bollywood with Subhash Ghai giving her the break. She sang, she danced, she illuminated the silver-screen with her brilliance for years.
Life seemed like a party until one fine day when it threw a rude surprise. Though her body had been giving signals for a while — she had been sick and down with flu or food poisoning more than usual — but she kept on brushing it as a result of low immunity and demanding career and lifestyle.
It was only after her friend Mona Kapoor’s lost battle with cancer, Manisha Koirala decided to get herself thoroughly checked as she was apprehensive of her own health. Manisha was in Kathmandu when she was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer in 2012. She was in utter shock. It was only after the initial shock and disbelief, she and her family decided to take a second opinion for which they came to Mumbai, and were suggested the further line of treatment by the doctors.
Looking at the gravity of her condition, her doctors and family advised her to get herself treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York. She underwent an eleven-hour-surgery and chemo sessions later which would at times take a toll on her and that’s when her doctors’ family members, her friends proved to be a rock-solid support system.
When she felt like giving up they didn’t and that kept her going. The six months of Manisha’s treatment gave her a new insight towards life. She consciously chose to read, listen and talk to positive people around. Her attitude towards life changed so much so that she would call the chemo, vitamin shots. That’s when she realised there was a need for open conversation around cancer.
Till now it was only Yuvraj Singh and Lisa ray to name a few known faces who had spoken and shared their journey positively as the fear, the stigma around cancer is bigger than the awareness. There would be days when she would be at her lowest and then something inside would tell her to buck up and fight with all her might as the doctors would constantly remind her that she was responding very well to the medicines and other therapies. Manisha would keep small notes on her daily experiences but at times would be full of doubts if she would would ever make it to write a book on her journey as she wanted to create more awareness through her celebrity status. Her strong will, positive attitude and her new found perspective towards life became the catalyst in her recovery and helped her overcome her illness.
Since then Manisha has taken a different approach towards life as she calls herself a cancer crusader. She has become more grateful towards life and has stopped taking her life, people, relationship for granted.
With her strong will power, determination and belief, Manisha has moved on after fighting a fierce battle with cancer but she is not leaving any stone unturned for people who are grappling with this battle, with her motivational speeches and her book Healed : How Cancer Gave Me A New Life. Manisha has bared her life in this book as she says now I want to keep things simple, real and not superficial at any level without thinking much about how I will be judged or criticised.