Actor Manisha Koirala, who won a tough battle against ovarian cancer, said on Sunday that the dreaded disease had changed her as a person, as she is now kinder and values her life and health more.
The 48-year-old actor from Nepal said it was very important to have an open conversation about the disease.
She said cancer had made her kinder, gentler and had taught her that we are all interconnected and intertwined.
“I took my life for granted. I neglected my health, that is why cancer came to me as a teacher, it came to me as a lesson. I value my life more now, love my family, value my health because I realised if one is not healthy, one cannot enjoy any aspect of living,” Manisha told PTI on the sidelines of the Jaipur Literature Festival.
Manisha Koirala also spoke at a session where she discussed her book Healed: How Cancer Gave Me a New Life which opens with the sentence, “I don’t want to die”.
“The thought of death is the first thing that comes to mind when a person is diagnosed with cancer. I was utterly shocked when I came to know about the disease. It was the loneliest night. Even a familiar journey from Kathmandu to Mumbai which I had taken umpteen times felt so different,” the actor said.
Manisha, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, said she became conscious of people’s gestures and emotions while grappling with the disease.
“When I was sick, I was searching for positive stories. I could not get many stories, except the success story of (actor) Lisa Ray and (cricketer) Yuvraj Singh, who came out fighting successfully with cancer. So I decided that when I recover, I will share my stories with people. I also believe that sharing helps lower the burden from your head and heart. Hence, I wrote the book,” she said.
Noting that the cancer treatment was expensive in India, Manisha Koirala said the patients needed more awareness to cure the disease in time.
“It is important to take your own decisions and take control of yourself rather than relying on others, and it is absolutely vital to have information about the disease,” she said.
Talking about the support she received, Manisha said although many strangers turned up and helped a great deal, yet the all important emotional support came from her mother.
“I had to make peace with my death. I made a promise to myself that if I get to live again I will spread awareness about cancer. It is the perception towards the problem that matters. You can take it as a challenge or see it as something that you cannot overcome,” said Manisha, who is a goodwill ambassador for the UN Population Fund.
To a question on her biopic, Manisha Koirala said, “I still have a lot to do so that an interesting movie is made on my life. I will continue acting as I am in love with films and acting.”
Born into the prominent Koirala family in Nepal, Manisha made her Bollywood debut with Saudagar in 1991 and went on to act in films like 1942: A Love Story, Akele Hum Akele Tum, Bombay, Khamoshi: The Musical, Dil Se, Mann, Lajja and Company.
She took a break from acting in 2012 and returned five years later with the coming-of-age drama Dear Maya, Netflix’s Lust Stories and Sanju.