She will always be the image of that surreally gorgeous ladki sitting on the swing, with her beautiful long hair and dupatta flying magically in the breeze, as Anil Kapoor sings “Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga.” Yes! Manisha Koirala will always be that ladki. She’s as graceful, charming and beautiful even today. She is also very strong, so strong that cancer lost the battle with her!
Back on her feet today after bravely fighting cancer with her strong will power, she’s put all her experiences in a profound book aptly titled Healed. “My book is a result of intense soul-searching. I have plunged deep into the dark, bottomless pit of painful memories and woven a story out of them,” write Manisha at the beginning of this very inspiring book.
Speaking with her is always a pleasure as she has so much positive energy. This heart to heart conversation with her has been so enlightening, uplifting and inspiring. This World Cancer Day, read what Manisha has to say about her fight and get inspired.
Image Credit: Amit Ashar
How do you manage to stay so positive?
I am blessed that I am alive and I feel so much of love pouring in and that keeps me going.
What would you like to tell people who are suffering from cancer?
The cancer diagnosis is very scary for anybody but do have hope, do go to the right doctor. Do proper medical treatment and medical support but at the same time try and look out and study about how to remain in balance of your health. Any disease that happens is because as I often integrate the word that dis-ease is disease. When the body is not in harmony, when it is out of balance, then things happen to us. Try and figure out what is that is troubling you, what the reasons are and navigate that. I believe as much in naturopath as I do medicines but your doctor knows best so take your doctor’s advice.
What was your reaction when you first got to know you had cancer?
For a very long time there was disbelief, I kept hoping and praying that it was a mis diagnosis but it wasn’t. Eventually it struck me that it is a late stage cancer then my mother and everyone in my family started hunting for the best doctor and treatment. That’s how we landed up in New York. It was a whole phase of hoping and praying that it was a wrong diagnosis.
What was the reaction of your family?
When a disease like this happens your entire family suffers even more than the person suffering, because they feel helpless. They want to help but they can’t, they are lost, they are helpless and I think they go through much more trauma. I am blessed to have my parents and my brat of a brother who suddenly became the man of the family. I remember one night when my leg was hurting, he massaged my leg for hours and my dad too would help me. He would take me for walks slowly, step by step post the surgery. Each and every step my family was with me.
Looking back now, would you have done things differently?
After cancer, I would say that I am living more wholesome. I am more whole, more complete. Before that I think I was a lost person, somewhere in that negativity. Having said that, I do many things now that I didn’t do before.I would use the car for even short distances but now I walk around a lot, noticing parks around my areas. I have started interacting with people more often. My relationships and my friendships are more real now. I feel if someone is in pain today I am willing to stand with that person, earlier I would dodge.
Image Credit: Amit Ashar
I know you read a lot during the time of your treatment, What are some of the books that helped you?
I was crazy about healing so I started reading books like Bryan Weiss, Louis Hay and millions of others about healing, not only about naturopath but also about mental and emotional healing.
You are also training to go trekking to the Himalayas soon. How are you preparing for that?
(Smiles an infectious smile) Three of my school friends and I are planning to go to the Everest base camp. It will be a 15 day trek. We are all in different places, one is in Canada, one in Delhi and I keep shuffling between Mumbai and Kathmandu so we all are training in our own different ways, doing things like work outs and walking.
You’ve always said that you had a stage fright, but today you are also a motivational speaker. How did you gain that confidence?
I was very much at ease in front of a camera but the moment someone handed the mike to me to make a speech, I would be shaking and nervous. But cancer gave me the ability to see that people are not there to judge you, they are actually there to support you. I got that feeling constantly after my recovery, when I returned to Mumbai and saw love in people’s eyes. If I speak now, it is because people have given me love and encouragement.
You returned to acting with Dear Maya after a long time post recovery.How did it feel to be back again?
My own inner world had changed so i started seeing more beauty rather than more traumas. My way of looking at life and situations had changed and cancer gifted me that.Besides the fact that over the years I see the younger generation in the film industry is more disciplined, more professional, more focused and those were welcome changes. What I did back then was a lot of work but today, I want to space out my work. I want to travel the world alone, meet different people, be with my family and write more books.
What would you tell all the young aspiring actors who come to the city with dreams?
I think dreams do come true but be willing to work hard and put all your mind in your work. Be sharp, be intelligent, know that you are meant for it. First of all this life is a gift so honor this life and then go and achieve any dream. Any dream is possible because human will is stronger than anything else. Destiny does play a part but human will is also equally strong.
Manisha has truly shown that strong will power and has been a huge source of encouragement and courage to so many people fighting the dreaded disease. May you be blessed with good health, love and warmth always! Thumbs up to this fighter woman!