In 2013, Bengaluru based Sonia Singh was just getting used to being a new mother. Her son was all of three months when something happened that turned her world upside down.
After frequent bouts of fainting and blackouts, Sonia underwent a CT scan. It came to light that she had a medullary cystic tumour, located in the brain stem.
The symptoms made her unable to walk or talk properly. And the surgery to remove the tumour left her bedridden for almost two years. Even now, Sonia continues to suffer from pain and has to take multiple precautions before doing normal things like riding a bike, walking in high heeled shoes and so on.
However, through it all, what kept Sonia going was the desire to get back up on her feet. She recently won the title of Mrs India Karnataka Congeniality 2018, after having started a business of her own – a unisex salon in BTM 2nd stage.
The diagnosis and surgery
“The tumour was on the part which controls the spinal cord and its movements. I guess they had to remove a part of that as well. I would need my husband’s help in sitting, eating, even going to the washroom and feeding my son,” the 31-year-old recalls.
After having worked as a stewardess in a number of airline companies for nine years, sitting at home, unable to move on her own was something which could have plunged Sonia into depression. “I used to try and keep busy in whatever limited way I could. Looking after my son kept me going. That, and the idea that I wanted to get back up on my feet… take a job or start something of my own as soon as I could,” Sonia shares.
The surgery also left a cavity at the back of her head – a constant reminder of what had happened to her and what it had taken out of her.
Recovery, and getting back up on her feet
Three years after her surgery, Sonia was finally in a position to get back up – literally and figuratively.
First, she tried taking up a job. But when the exertion of commuting to work and coming back to pick up her son from school proved too much for her body, she decided to start her own business.
That’s how she opened her salon.
“One day, I was looking at my old photos from my airhostess days. And I thought I wanted to use that experience of grooming and hospitality somewhere. In a way that would make me feel good. That’s how I decided to participate in a beauty pageant,” Sonia says.
She registered in March this year for Mrs India Karnataka, thanks to Prathibha Saunshimath, one of the sponsors of the event, who agreed to give Sonia some leeway due to her health condition.
However, Sonia did not know the struggles that awaited her. Right from handling the exertion to wearing high heels – all of it took more out her, thanks to the after effects of her surgery.
However, Sonia says that she has always had a stubborn tendency to run after what challenges her. When she finally won the title of Mrs India Karnataka Congeniality, Sonia felt it was well deserved.
“I thought it described my personality. And I had proved to everyone but also to myself that I did not need sympathy. And while the physical pain I feel in doing simple physical tasks is going to be a permanent part of my life, it will not stop me from living,” she says.