Just when you think you have won the battle, you realize the war is not yet over. This was exactly what happened to South Indian actor Mamta Mohandas in her seven-year long battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer that affects the body’s lymph nodes.
She was first diagnosed with cancer in 2009 that saw her sitting at home for almost one and a half years, during which she fought the illness with gusto. Bouncing back to the screen with renewed zest after being declared cancer-free, Mamta won many hearts with her very open attitude to dealing with the most trying period in her life that included a quick divorce exactly a year after her marriage to her best friend from childhood, and other crucial personal decisions.
That is when life delivered her a second whammy when she failed her bone marrow transplant that ushered in a relapse in 2013. In an interview with Malayala Manorama, Mamta recounts asking her doctor for the real deal, to which the doctor replied that a even if a complete cure could not be promised, the disease could very well be controlled.
This, Mamta believes, was the turning point in her attitude to her disease. Till then -she admits- she had envisioned a day when she would get rid of cancer once and for all. However, from that moment on, she chose to forego all such preconceived notions, and concentrate on keeping it under control. Just like one would deal with lifelong diabetes or some such illness.
She also decided to deal with it on a one-to-one basis, as in fight the war that lay ahead alone, at least till such time that she was on firmer ground.
Such an ‘alone’ time -Mamta felt- was imperative to let down her defence, laugh, cry, fight, be depressed, hit rock bottom…all of which was very essential, if she wanted to rise from the ashes like the famed Phoenix, going by her interview to TOI last year.
So despite having a very closely-knit family, with her parents being her greatest strength, she flew away to downtown Los Angeles to focus on rebuilding her inner self that lay scattered along the harsh corridors of life.
A psychological healing is what she preferred to term it, as it was important that she healed her bruised mind, before she focused on getting the disease ravaging her body to heed to her.
Her most recent medical journey involved voluntarily subjecting herself to being part of a clinical trial that the hospital in America offered as part of its ongoing medical research to fight Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
On May 17, 2016, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave accelerated approval to the drug called nivolumab (Opdivo) for treatment of patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma that has relapsed or progressed.
It was literally a last resort for those who had lost all hope in their fight against her type of cancer. Of the 22 patients who had signed up for the programme, she was the youngest and the only non-American.
Going through the onslaughts of varying mental, emotional and psychological upheavals, times where she completely gave up hope, other times where she refused to buckle under the pressure, periods where she distanced herself from everyone -she has seen it all.
Once Mamta was able to regain her inner peace and happiness, only then did she seek the companionship of her loved ones once again. And this time, she savours it even more, as she re-learns to appreciate her moments of joy, bit by bit, day by day.
Its finally here..A new ray of hope in t field of Cancer. 'Nivolumab' for aggressive Hodgkins lymphoma http://t.co/KYD61ozVw4. Spread t word— Mamta Mohandas (@mamtamohan) September 27, 2014