Triathlete And Breast Cancer Survivor Mayura Shivalkar On Beating All Odds

Breast Cancer

An acclaimed triathlete with multiple years of corporate experience under her belt, Mayura Shivalkar’s journey of beating all odds whilst battling breast cancer beckons us all to look at life differently. Post nearing her forties, a slight pain in her left breast on the eve of a very important race led to massive rejig in her life.

Multiple doctor visits, gazillion reports, a biopsy, excruciating rounds of radiation and more. Cut to today, she’s healthy, boasts of completing Ironman and provides counsel to those suffering from breast cancer. We had the good fortune of catching up on call with her, and here’s her chronicling her journey whilst lending inspiration to many.

ELLE: Tell us about the detection and your response to the same.

Mayura Shivalkar (MS): Luckily I had a good coach like Pankaj Ravalu. I started my training on the 10th of January and a month later, I started having severe pain near my left breast. I thought maybe it was because I was not used to the MTB road bike. Then later, after a strong bout of fever, energy loss and terrible pain, I noticed a lump. I went to a doctor and the biopsy report was positive. Doctor just checked near my armpit and he felt a few lumps, a few nodes near my armpit, which confirmed our suspicions. It was indeed breast cancer.

But I was hell bent on participating in the race, which had been a dream of mine for 5-6 years. The doctor prescribed a few antibiotics and advised me to listen to my body. My race was on the 25th of Feb, 2018 and I left India on 17th or 18th. My son was in 12th grade with his exam scheduled for the 1st of March and my race was on 25th in Colombo. My husband was also supposed to leave the country for a transfer to Bangladesh. Everything, everywhere, all at once indeed.

ELLE: How was participating in the race under such conditions like?

MS: I remember getting my period before the race. I wore a menstrual cup, and mind you, it was the first time I was wearing one. I successfully finished the race in a 36 to 37 degree temperature and it was also my first time doing a sea-swim. I was an average swimmer, but determined nonetheless.

At the biking bit also, I wasn’t a pro, but I managed after learning how to, later in life. And this triathlon journey of mine, helped me during my cancer. I was happy to reach the finish line of the race and that ended up motivating me to face my cancer journey thinking all would be okay.

ELLE: What was the reaction of your friends and family and how did they help you tackle this?

MS: You know, my parents taught me one thing. The way you are, the way you enjoy your happy days, you have to similarly enjoy your bad days too. Don’t give up midway. A comma is better than a full stop. Take a pause and come back stronger.

ELLE: How was your recovery? What were the things that helped you cope?

MS: I adopted activities, like walking, gardening, yoga and grew fond of dogs. Sri Lanka invited me as a speaker, and I went there, and started doing breast cancer awareness campaigns. I started doing counselling for people undergoing chemo and radiation. We did a fashion show for breast cancer survivors. Later, I also won the Tiger Man title and had a podcast with Kunal Kapoor for Ketto. These things definitely helped me.

ELLE: Your message to patients currently battling breast cancer.

MS: I encourage people to try intermittent fasting. I’m also big on spirituality and think it’s very important to adopt a hobby. It can be anything you like – yoga, walk, swimming, running, etc. Find some time in the day to do something for yourself and only yourself.

Also for women, please get checked at regular intervals. For survivors, do consider oncoplasty as well (only after doctor’s suggestions). It certainly helps with confidence retention and helps women not slide into depression after the battling stage. And these 3 Rs are supremely important. Right doctor, right attitude and right treatment. Cancer has taught me two things – everything is temporary and it’s important to contribute towards the greater good.

Also Read: This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Play Your Part With These Brands Supporting the Cause

- Digital Fashion Writer


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