A cancer warrior for nearly four years, Devika Tinsarran wants people to know that living with breast cancer is not the end of the world.
Tinsarran, now 33, was only 29 when she received her diagnosis in April 2015. It all began when she began experiencing excruciating pain in her breast along with tiredness and weight loss.
These signs and symptoms led Tinsarran to the doctor’s office for a medical check-up; it was then she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.
Tinsarran said when she first found out that she was diagnosed with cancer she froze. I became numb. I couldn’t feel my legs. There were so many things running through my head all at once.
“As (the doctor) kept on speaking, I heard myself say to him, “Stop! Whatever you’re about to say right now I wouldn’t hear or remember. Please give me a few days. I’ll come back and we’ll go from there.”
She added that her family and friends were devastated by the news, since no one expected it, because her family does not have a family history.
But she said that her family was confident that she could fight this battle.
She noted during treatment, it was the little things that made the most difference to her.
According to Tinsarran, “My husband was my arms and legs. I felt as though I couldn’t function without him. There were days when I couldn’t walk on my own or even get out of my bed.”
“My mother-in-law would go with me to every doctor’s appointment, every treatment sessions and she did all the cooking when I couldn’t.”
While noting that her parents and her uncle live in Wakenaam, she said that they visited her very often. She stated that they would bring her large quantities of coconut water and organic vegetables, which were an essential part of her diet.
“My mom and dad called me every day and prayed with me. They still do it onto this day. My brother and sister made it their duty to visit me every day after work and did whatever they could to make me more comfortable,” she recounted.
Tinsarran added that her friends would message her regularly just to lend support. This, she said, was extremely important to her.
While she did eight cycles of chemotherapy and 33 sessions of radiation therapy, she is no longer doing chemotherapy because of the way she feels.
Each has its own struggle but with the support from her family and friends, she made it through. She said that her faith in Jesus helped in the fight.
Whenever she felt overly anxious, Tinsarran would listen to her playlist of healing scriptures. This calmed her.
“It gave me added strength and Jeremiah 29:11 became my anthem. “ For I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord; plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.”
“So I held strong on those words and it got me through the most horrible and damaging treatments you can put your body through.
“Because what chemotherapy is really, it’s basically poisoning your body and hoping to live after. Along with killing the cancer cells, it also kills every cell in your body that is attached to the cancer cell.”
Although Tinsarran wishes she could reverse doing treatment, she said the experience has made her a better person since she believes everything in life happens to teach us something.
These days, she spends her time sharing her experience and her lifestyle, which she believes is the reason for her being called “the Guyanese Vegan” on Instagram and Facebook.
And to whoever will listen, she advocates for breast cancer in Guyana through various foundations by promoting healthy lifestyle and dietary habits that can change people’s life.
Tinsarran is also an animal lover, who enjoys travelling.
A vibrant and outgoing Tinsarran in an interview with this publication said since her official diagnosis, she would wake up, say prayers, and her husband would make her a vegetable juice, which she would have for breakfast everyday along with lots of water and minimum exercise when she can.
For fun, she would look after her house plants, her cat “Buzzy” and go on adventures with her husband. She also enjoys photography.
One advice, she said, she would normally give persons with breast cancer, is “You will freak out, but once you’re done freaking out, get a second opinion, do not keep if from family and friends. Support from your love ones is vital when it comes to surviving and thriving with cancer.”
She added do not be ashamed of letting others know what’s happening with you.
“Eliminate anything that causes you stress, forgiveness are an essential part of healing. And do not let anyone force you into making any decision about your health, you’re in charge of your body and you must feel absolutely confident about the decision that you make before making them …miracles happen every day.”
She believes that there are lots more to be done when it comes to helping cancer patient and survivors.
“No one prepares you for life after cancer treatment and it’s not an easy life adjusting.
“When I was doing chemotherapy and lost my hair and eyebrows, there were some who looked at me as if I’m from another planet. I believe we aren’t doing enough to educate others to talk and treat someone who has gone through or going through something like cancer.”
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