Girish R Gowda

I have heard of a lot of people who have battled Cancer, some I have personally seen as well. People treat cancer to be a social stigma, while others look at it as a challenge and try and combat it in every way they can.

One such person I had the honor to speak with is the national celebrity – Girish R Gowda. The first person to win a silver medal for India in kickboxing, is currently battling Leukemia. Apart from a two month break in his career, no part of his cancer treatment has stopped him from working doubly hard for his dream. ‘I want to hear the national anthem play when I win the gold medal for my nation in kickboxing’ says Girish. And I don’t see him to be too far from that. With all the trauma that befell on him, and his spirit to fight, he sure will achieve his dream and make us all proud.

The day I was detected with cancer, I was fine, but my family panicked a lot. I didn’t know too much about the treatment, but my gut kept me in good faith. My sister broke the news to me - I had blood cancer, she was hesitant of how I’d take it, but there was some sort of hope in me that made me tell her, I know I can be cured. My family saw that confidence and it helped them be strong. I have a tattoo that reads ‘born to fight’ that somewhere seeped inside of me, and I never wanted to give up.

When I began coming to the hospital, my eyes began turning red, my energy levels had reduced, there came a point where I couldn’t eat any food. My hands were swelling too. The pain that struck me was very bad. I was on the verge of telling my sister to cut my hand off, because I couldn’t bare it. As a professional fighter with all my dislocations and injuries, none of that pain compared to what this hand and back pain was. I got discharged, and I couldn’t walk, though I did keep trying to walk, and kept the lifestyle very normal. The day I returned home I walked into my room and cried. Reminiscent of my life before this, when I was at the gym I lifted heavy weights, I used to even lift a person who weight 106 kg, but now I couldn’t move. I started to walk, I then began walking every day for at least a 100 meters. Within a week I walked for 7 kms, and I was mobile again. A lot of thoughts came into my head when I wasn’t working. Coming back to work after 2 months made me feel a lot better, my mind was diverted.

This whole journey came to me as a sort of challenge, I knew that there are a truck load of people suffering from Cancer, and I wanted to be an inspiration to them, show them how cancer is curable and how it can all be handled when you have the willpower to fight through it. Being a fitness professional, I was following my own diet, of course I had to confirm it with my doctor and then continued with my routine. Like every other person I too lost my hair, but I shaved my head anyway. A lot of my friends shaved theirs too, which was a sweet gesture, but I never wanted to be looked at as a patient and didn't want them doing things for me out of pity. I was at a loss of energy most of the time, so I wasn’t able to meet people too. I even stopped meeting my family for a while. Doctors mentioned I could go out, but wearing the mask and heading out was hard so I didn’t. I didn’t stop meeting my friends and my students though, for they showed me the side that wanted me to bounce back from it all. Never gave up on my energy, as a fighter I can fight anything. I kept that in my mind and fought through my illness. Initially I fought in physical fights, this time it was also a mental fight. I confirmed with my doctor if I could coach, and that’s something I did all through and never gave up on.’

This insight into his world and how he battled one of the most stereotyped illnesses, makes me believe, that life can always be turned towards happier living.

Girish R Gowda - Kickboxing Champion

- As spoken with Chandini Hemdev