#IAmASurvivor are stories from women of all walks of life, telling their stories of survival. Everybody is a survivor and all stories deserve to be told. These stories are all in their own words.
When I tell people, I have three rare diseases, hypoparathyroidism, von Hippel-Lindau and trigeminal neuralgia they look confused and tell me that they are sorry. I don’t want sympathy, I want support from them. Because sympathy implies people are thinking I am weak. And I am not weak. I am strong. I am a Warrior remember? I have also written my survival story “A Warrior Dies Dancing, That’s Who I Am…”. which is available on Amazon in Kindle format. It is my memoir of how I fought against a rare ferocious disease under strange circumstances and unprecedented conditions.
Yes, I am Payel Bhattacharya who started her journey into expressing herself and the turmoil she is going through by the long poem “The Warrior Princess”. Eventually writing a fictional account of her life story in the Indian literature journal by Sahitya Akademi which led to the survival story by the same name. Yes, that's who I am.
You can’t see it when you look at me, but I am in pain almost every day.
Pain is my constant companion since the days when my liver was studded with tumours of VHL or von-Hippel Lindau and they couldn’t be individually resected. I needed a liver transplant to stop the intense pain caused by those tumours which were haemorrhaging inside my belly.
Currently, living with the painful condition of trigeminal neuralgia is difficult that’s why it is also known as ‘suicide disease’. The stabbing pain and the right eye throbbing makes me dizzy. And with VHL, tumours keep mushrooming inside the body, in up to ten parts which include brain, spine kidneys, liver, eyes, ears, pancreas and sometimes they turn. I survived kidney cancer. One of those tumours sitting atop my optic nerve in the brain makes me partially blind. Not even those killer sessions of radiation therapy could shrink it. I was also ambushed by the old killer consumption disease and after four years of vigorous treatment I survived multi drug-resistant TB which involved my lungs and my bones. I have a walking defect because of that, and I need to walk with a stick.
Those tumours especially the nasty ones popping up in my brain makes living every day a constant fight. I underwent fourteen surgeries and radiation therapies. I don't get to recover from any of my rare diseases like you do when you get cold or flu.
It’s a daily fight for me where hope and the will to survive saves me always.
I could have chosen to sit at home by myself. Every day, day after day, isolated from the world but I took life as a challenge and strove to write detective fiction. I have a short-term memory loss which means I forget things. It happened after my cyberknife radiosurgery of brain in 2013. But then again after the radiation therapy for brain in 2017 I could feel a difference. I could remember better, and thoughts were forming inside my head. I decided its time to live my dreams and aspirations and took the challenge to write. Yes, despite my brain tumours, short-term memory loss, headaches and one-eyed vision I knitted complex plots with intrigues.
I was born to a wealthy family but those unfeeling relatives when I needed them most…the foxy ones conspired against me so that I don’t get my rightful inheritance in a time of great need and that I die like a goldfish, belly-up. Other relatives turned tail and fled. But I didn’t despair and kept looking for hope and I found hope amongst mankind not tied to me by any blood bond.
They were the bringers of light, courage, glee and understanding.
It is their combined effort which pulled me out of death’s grip when I needed a landmark liver transplant to save my life. After this life-saving event of my life, my father passed away. Once again, my life turned upside down but being a warrior, I was not the one to give up. Being thrown on our own devices together with Mum I have walked on the fringes of life as he left us penniless and shelter less. Those people with their heart in the right place listened, and we survived.
Mum took charge of all responsibilities and jobs of both parents on her own shoulders. She drew her sword out in the sunshine charged ahead and showed her true mettle by confronting every dire situation which actually crossed paths with her.
Being a housewife throughout her life Mum became firm and in a new and strange city she went around different chemists requesting for discounts for my medicines and seeking help from kind people. She sustained me. My parents taught me to live, not merely exist. My life story consists my background and events that have made me who I am today.
“The adventures of Mum and Princess” is my effort to create a detective who is individualistic without attempting to imitate my favourite characters. ‘Mum’ has a remarkable facility for observation and notation of the trivia which often leads her to solve impossible cases. She is a sure and self-reliant woman interested in the solving problems. Princess is her sidekick helping her unravelling puzzles and solving cases with riddles. She too finds trifles to be of significance and by interpreting them helps Mum with her illuminating deductions. The collection includes six stories which are my brainchild and the primary characters, and a few situations drawn from my own life enhanced by imagination. The adventures of Mum and Princess commence with the story of ‘The girl at the end of the telescope’ which is my first attempt on writing detective fiction and is a simple story of Mum’s powers of reasons, deductions and conclusions but the following stories are full of suspense filled with steadily growing apprehension until the very end. “The adventures of Mum and Princess” is my offering to my Wonder Mum--- whose iron will and greatness has saved me from the slippery hands of fate time and again and made me realize the “can do it spirit” residing in some little corner of my heart.
You can read their breath-taking adventures from
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If you or anyone would be willing to assist Payel and contribute towards her medical bills, please send a message and her banking details will be sent to you.