Savita Talwar

Let’s see... where do I begin? A little over a year ago, in April 2016, I took the most exciting trip with my best friend to Europe. This was one of our many sojourns and as always we had one of the best times of our life (well we say that for all our trips together).

Finally our vacation comes to an end and we go back to our homes. She returns to India and I to the US. Just after a week of getting back from our trip, I get a call from my best friend saying she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Through her anxious voice she said that she hoped I could be with her as soon as possible.

At that time, everything stood still for a moment for me. And then a thousand questions began crossing my mind - some of these were medical in nature - What stage? When do we begin treatment? But there were also all the unspoken questions - How can I help? Will I be the friend she needs me to be? The depths of the unknown were too deep, so I decided to focus on the task at hand- taking care of my best friend. I told her not to worry and decided to be there for her through it all.

And so I hurriedly packed and zoomed to India! Through what seemed to be the toughest time for the family, it was astounding to see her family making her and me and everyone around feel like everything around was just as normal while being as supportive as possible. Her husband and son who are both doctors played an excellent role to make everything around her extremely comfortable. And from the minute I landed at her home, I could sense my being there gave her a sure sigh of relief. As my best friend, she had all the right to rely on me for anything and everything. She easily transitioned all her chores and let me take care of her day to day responsibilities. Above all she let me be there for her completely.

This was followed by months of chemo therapy and treatment, the side effects had worn her out but she knew how to handle it. She stayed in control of her body, her mind and her belief, which made her healing happen much quicker. And her positive approach, her will power to fight this dreadful disease made all of us around her stronger. She could not eat but would ask for food because she knew that was right for her, and would give her the strength she needs to fight back.

As time went by, chemo had begun to take a toll on her and I could see her getting frailer and frailer but her mental ability was only getting stronger. Her muscles were wearing off slowly but she started getting massages for better circulation and fought hard to regain her strength. She began losing her hair but mentally prepared herself in advance and was equipped with the best of scarves and wigs. Through it all she assured us that her frail body could withstand all that turmoil without shedding a single tear from her eyes. That strength, that will power could cross any hurdles! I will never know exactly what her personal journey was like but I will be grateful to her for enduring it all for us. She always maintained a positive outlook and made her cancer look like “just a bump in the road”

On June 13th that year, we celebrated my best friend’s 60th birthday! Certainly a big milestone for her. Her children decided to have a small party with close family and friends and gave her the best she could get, given the circumstances. And she looked as best she could. She welcomed everyone from a distance with a smile. No one could tell she is going through that rough phase of her life. That day she looked poised and truly beautiful- like a breathtaking mosaic of all the battles she has won. Incredible is the word I would use for her strength, fierce determination and positive approach.

I returned back to my home after 5 months, when she was able to manage quite a bit on her own. Everyone around her was very positive. The support she got gave her the reason to get up each day and not feel sorry for herself. And she got through it like a rockstar not only for herself but for all of us- her people that care. Through those 5 months our friendship only emerged stronger and I will be ever so grateful for that.

To conclude I can only say- You did it my Best Friend! Hats off to you.

  • For not only fighting and surviving but for showing all of us (your family and friends) what it looks like to do so with courage and faith
  • For never seeming shattered
  • For being a strong woman and a fiercely determined mother and grandmother
  • For being a tough cookie that year

Take a bow my best friend.

- As experienced by Savita Talwar with Hema Joshi