Born and brought up in New Delhi, Dr. Rita Banik, graduated from Hindu College, Delhi University and pursued a Master’s degree in Applied Geology from the Peoples’ Friendship University, Moscow.
With a Ph.D. in Geochemistry from Indian School of Mines (ISM), Dhanbad she began her professional career, from a research associate to teaching in schools.
Writing is her passion, which has been fortified by her tryst with cancer and her fearless fight at defeating the disease.
Here is her story in her own words.
APPLE changed the world with a comeback in Just Seven Years. YOU came back again in my life – after Just Seven Years! Should I be happy for being loved so much or Sad – for your mere presence in my body, may mean the end of my being in this Universe.
I was born and brought up in New Delhi. In 1974 I saw my father (age 47 years) suffer from cancer before he passed away due to lack of treatment opportunities. As years passed in continuation, I completed my education and set up a family, as well.
This was in March 2006, soon after Holi. We were in Assam and I was indisposed with cough, cold, sore throat and weight-loss. One day I felt a lump in my left breast and within no time I was diagnosed with breast cancer stage II.
Who could have imagined that those were the symptoms of cancer! In that state of shock, I flew to Delhi and was treated at Batra Hospital. The whole treatment of Surgery, Chemotherapy and Radiation was a traumatic experience in itself. Almost a year gone in getting rid of cancer and attaining my normal self or the so called ‘normal self’.
I still shudder with memories of 2006. So much pain, distress and mood swings, all piled up together. Each day brought a new challenge with itself. Yet I crossed all the hurdles and survived. Not only this, I started writing about cancer. On the last day of my chemo I was rewarded by the publication of my article in TOI, ‘Coping with Cancer’. The very next year I wrote a handbook on awareness of breast cancer: ‘Kick the Beast Out Of Your Life’, which has been published in two editions. It was my inner instinct which pulled me towards Workshops, National & International Conferences. I attended these as a delegate and also as a speaker. I met many people from different walks of life, in some way or other connected with cancer.
For me life had changed entirely. It was amazing that a shy person like me started attending support group meetings, talking freely about my own feelings. Unknowingly, slowly and steadily, I become a part of cancer world. Today I accept and admit that cancer has been a good teacher to me.
At International level I saw how people shared their cancer journey with ease and volunteered to work for cancer. International conferences became a learning experience for me… something that I fervently wished to implement in my own motherland… something was to be done for cancer awareness poignantly.
In 2012, I met another young lady, (Late) Rashmi Kapoor, suffering from breast cancer. Together we started giving awareness presentations and gave a name to our endeavour – RACE to rein-in-cancer. The desire to carry on the torch on the track of awareness is as strong as when we started. And, we are sure, it is here to stay!