Designation: Business Manager
My first call to Vasana to get details about her journey left me speechless and thanking God for his kindness and love. Vasana’s journey to surviving cancer and recovering from it would not have been an easy one yet it has renewed her faith in God and in her belief that her family can take her through anything. There’s not much I personally can say, for once I’m at loss for words and humbled by the Divine’s love for us. Please read her full interview below.
Having survived Stage 3 Breast Cancer, Vanessa Alles is a true Lioness and I hope this interview will be an inspiration and help give hope to families out there.
How did you first find out that you had cancer and which year was it?
I was pregnant with my 2nd baby. Baby was due on the 23rd December. About week before due date, I felt a bad pain in my right breast & thought it was normal due to pregnancy. But then I suddenly started bleeding from the nipple. Doctors suggested that a needle test & true cut were performed, from which we found out on the 20th December that I had a stage 3 breast cancer. My Gyno a wonderful doctor – Dr. R Colonne called many surgeons who were willing to do an immediate operation but then suddenly he called Dr. Kanishke De Silva who understood my situation and didn’t want to rush but handle the baby first.
I delivered a beautiful baby girl on 23rd December 2014 & then breast fed her for 3 weeks. I then started medication for cancer from the 17th of January on wards.
What were the things going through your mind after the diagnosis?
How will I handle my family?
What will happen to my kids?
Will I be able to breast feed my baby?
Will anything happen to my Baby?
Will I recover?
How did your family react, particularly your elder child?
The entire family cried, we just hugged each other & cried.
My 9 year old son got to know this after some time as we didn’t want him to get effected. The moment we told him, he cried & ask what will happen to Ammi? Then my husband explained to him the situation. We also spoke about the side effects of the medicine which I believe he didn’t understand at that time but he stood by my side every time I was going weak.
How did you manage to find strength and inspiration during your treatment?
I am a born again Christian. I became very strong during this time & understood who really God is. What wonders He can do for me. If Jesus died on the cross for me to save me nothing can harm me.
I started reading bible scriptures which gave me strength & prayed to my God. Whenever I felt down & sad I started conversations with God which I found gave me so much strength. God blessed me with a wonderful family who were with me every time I wanted. Starting from my husband – Akila to my sisters, mothers, father, my son & my friends at work, all were just there whenever I look around for help. Not to forget Pastor Austin & Rajeewa from church who were calling me day & night who kept me strong during this time.
Akila was with me everytime I was feeling weak. It was like he could read my mind, completely understood what I am going through. He went to the level of shaving his head when my hair was falling. He loved me more than ever during this time. He made me feel beautiful, he made me understand & realize that I hold a special place in his life & it’s going to be difficult without me.
Who is your biggest strength, your rock that helped you through it all?
My Husband Akila
My 2 Children
Being through it, how would you define yourself now?
A strong, fearless Godly child who believe nothing is impossible in life if you believe & have faith.
How has having cancer affected your outlook on life?
To be honest more than anything else I was scared of the side effects of Chemo. As we all know, it started with hair falling, skin getting dark, nails getting black, eye brows & eye lashes starting to fall…
I didn’t look at myself for 5 months without hair. I always used to cover my head with a scarf. I didn’t even allow my son to look at me without the scarf. I didn’t like going out as I was in fear that people might look at me in different way. I went only to church. Then my family said I needed to face this fear & they gave me so much strength to face this reality. When I saw myself I cried a lot but it gave me so much strength that I let go of the fear I had.
I started my normal life , marketing , shopping , etc… truly people don’t look at you in a different way that’s something amazing which I noticed.
Obviously God plays an important role in your life, giving you strength and for helping you beat cancer. Can you explain in your words your journey with God?
Through this journey I would say that I became a victim of Gods’ love, not a victim of cancer. I was a Christian but not truly understanding the meaning of being a Christian and love of God for me. Through this journey I got so much love & strength from my God and that gave me hope & kept me strong.
If I say I didn’t cry during this journey that is a lie. I cried a lot. At the beginning I used to just cry & kept on thinking what is going to happen. But slowly when I became strong with my connection to God, I used to go in to my room & I cried just with Him. It is so amazing that when I come out of that room I always came out stronger as God was always with me and answered all the questions I had in my mind. Every time I prayed, He gave me scriptures to keep me strong & live. I started having a hunger to know Him better, I enjoyed going to church, listening to sermons, studying the word. I allocated time for God. I started meditating upon the word, that helped me be strong everytime I was feeling down.
For example, after seeing or hearing something, if I was down or sad I would remember a bible verse which is the complete opposite to what was happening which gave me the strength to stay positive & strong. I fought every fear with the faith I had in God.
Mainly I realize that I am in a temporary world, the real world life I have is with my God.
What advice would you like to give to women in general about breast cancer?
It is not the end of life, but it is the beginning of a new journey.
Advice to women who have been diagnosed with Cancer?
Stay strong & believe that you are going to fight it & make it victorious. If you believe & stay positive you can beat it. Take the medications as per the doctor’s recommendation. Keep yourself busy with things that you like to do. Don’t idle. You need to find that special thing where you can get strength to stay positive. For me it was God through Jesus & it proved right. Deny the negativity every day.
Seek & find the savior who can save you & give you peace in your mind.
Advice to their families?
Stand by her every time, all the time. Shower her with love & care. She might act stupid sometimes, please do bare everything as she is going through a tough time.
Stay strong, do not let her feel that you all are struggling & weak. Stand by her at every stage. She might go weak because of her outer appearance but make her feel beautiful. She will go weak during her medication, stay by her.
Give her the assurance that she is not alone, if she looks back let her have the assurance that she has a hand to hold on to. She might like to be alone, let her be, don’t force her to do things that she doesn’t like to do but find ways to keep her busy so that she automatically comes out of loneliness.