Manisha Koirala was a popularly heard name during my childhood. It was not because of the fame and popularity this personality had in her sector but because my sister shares the same first name “Manisha”. My sister was constantly called Manisha Koirala and I used to wonder why. I didn’t know who she was. One of the neighbors started calling my sister Manisha Koirala and I thought other people imitated him.
It was 2017 when I first watched a ted talk from Manisha Koirala. “How to find meaning when reality hits you!” is the title of TED Talk and right away I was inspired. She shares her story of how she was fighting with Cancer and story of overcoming it.
Later, in late December 2018, I watched an interview interviewed by Bhusan Dahal and I came to know about her upcoming book “HEALED: How Cancer Gave Me A New Life!”. Since then, I was looking forward to reading it. Recently, I was fortunate enough to go through it. Unsure of what I should say; a review or a summary.
HEALED: How Cancer Gave Me A New Life!
Manisha Koirala with Neelam Kumar
“May you realize your limitless human potential and rekindle your
inner spirit to face every challenge life throws at you.”
In the preface section, it is mentioned to pen down all the feelings or else our mind tends to forget. And she mentions penning all her feelings is what resulted in writing this inspiring book.
I find this book a reflection of true feelings. Manisha Koirala was courageous enough to confront her darkness, painful experiences and bringing stories out of those experiences.
Manisha = Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge, Art, Music, Wisdom, and Learning) She informs that her journey of life is an attempt to look for Saraswati in Manisha (herself).
Further reading: Study in Australia
Healed, as per the author is the book about how she is able to overcome the fear of being abandoned by life itself.
Discovery of Ovarian Cancer
Manisha Koirala has explained the events (even the minor ones) in details. Knowing about ovarian cancer for the first time when she was admitted at Norvic Hospital was a shattering one. The dramatic happenings have been explained with each detail. How the Doctor was dressed up, the way he spoke, family members all gathered up and the truth of her suffering was revealed.
She has used simpler words to describe the events. Yet they are powerful enough to take us (we as readers) to that particular time. We can feel our presence there.
I believe that is the beauty and power of her writing. As an actress, she has always focused on the minor details and the same can be found in her writing as well.
After knowing about the suffering from ovarian cancer, she always has a battle with self whether to fight cancer or let it capture. At one point when she writes, “I don’t want to die!”, I couldn’t control myself and tears rolled down my eyes. I closed my eyes, hold my breath for a while and a deep sigh!
“I listened to everyone who cared to give me advice. I was a flower, my petals open, soaking in the Sun.” At the vulnerable point of her life, she was clueless. Not knowing how to respond to the upcoming situations, she decided to be an open minded.
Her suffering from cancer wouldn’t be cured in Kathmandu and so she went to Mumbai for further treatment. She was desperately hoping that the multiple tests done in Mumbai would show negative results as it did in Kathmandu. Sadly it didn’t happen.
She had to go to New York as the last resort. Living in the thoughts of death while moving to New York, she thought “What a lovely setting this would be to die in!” While in stay there, her mother was taking care of her the whole time not bothering anything else. Because of that affection, she had a feeling guilty for troubling her mother. So she would talk to her friends on the phone and weep.
Those of the moments of desperation. She found comfort in crying, bringing out tears while showering. A quote by Charlie Chaplin “I always like walking in the rain, so no one can see me crying.” I used to make fun of this quote. But how deeply she has related to her emotions. When all the tears were gone, she says a wave of acceptance sheltered inside her. A lion inside her was born.
One thing I really really like about this book is because powerful quotes are included to start off each chapter.
An ounce of hope getting stronger after knowing similar cases of late-stage ovarian cancers have been cured and patients are doing well until now. Powerful quotes make hopes even stronger; “Darkness is your candle, your boundaries are your quest.”
“How do you spell hope, I asked my heart? Pat came the reply,’ you don’t spell it. You feel it!’ This is so powerful and self-motivation as such helped her stay resilient to the harshest of times she had to undergo.
Despite all the self-motivation, she had a feeling of worthlessness even when surrounded by cooperative people. The feeling you’re unable to share with anyone else even though you desperately want to. She had emotional turmoil in spite of surrounding herself with all the positivity possible.
However, a small act of affection can lift the emotional well-being. Her mama did the same. When she visited his place, there was a single picture in his room and it was hers. He firmly believed that she would get back stronger than before.
Further reading: Why am I not a Nationalist?
After a series of tests, finally, it was the time for the operation. And what a strong faith her family had! Before getting into the operation, Manisha’s mother handed a Rudraksha mala to the Doctor informing him that it’s a sign of power. 11 hours later, Doctor comes up to say “The Mala has done the trick!”
When I read the statement “The Mala has done the trick!”, I was very emotional. I tried visualizing the joy of happiness and relief it brought in the faces of Manisha Koirala and her family members. I too had a big smile in my face. And at the same time, I realized the power of devotion and strong faith. It can surely be a catalyst if not the product.
Ignorance and the result
Earlier, Manisha was told by the Maori Healers that she needed to take care of her ovaries. She took it casually then. Later, she had to suffer from ovarian cancer and face a lot of trouble. Maybe a message that not everything should be taken lightly?
“But she smiled and the moment she took my hand into hers, I felt secured. The warmth of her fingers entwined into mine seemed to restored me to life.”
The power of mom’s affection, love and feeling security when she’s around.
Also in the latter section of the book, she had perfectly depicted mom as “She’s a woman who’ll not rest until she has had her way.”
Similar reading: A traveler’s diary to his mom!
Living with Confusion
“Was I going to live? Was I going to die? This state of knowing was the worst.”
Success with Surgery and then time for chemotherapy!
Eventually after a long session, her surgery was a success. However, that was just an end of the first part of getting cured. She had to undergo intensive chemotherapy sessions.
“The Stats are not good. The five-year survival rate is……” Her heart and mind got frozen.
A series of hopelessness after a pint of hope starting from Kathmandu to Dr. Advani in India to Dr. Chi in New York and now Dr. Makker while she was about to perform Chemotherapy. Reading these all gave me a deep sigh, I can’t imagine what had happened to her. What a roller coaster ride it was!
She was reflecting her Bollywood journey. Not just the journey of the uprising of her popularity but also how she degraded herself. How she was working day and night up to 12 films a year. Boosting and filling the ego with the central character in the films no matter who the director is and what kind of film it is. Toxic mindset and egoistic attitude toward life.
While cutting out the steel staples from her body. She’s nervous. The nurse asks,” Is it really hurting? Or are you just scared?” More often, we are just scared of hurt we might get even though it’s negligible.
Further reading: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck!
It was time for chemotherapy. Signing paper before chemo that read permanent heart damage, ear, neuropathic problems, blackening of nails, the possibility of shaky hands throughout the life were alarming. She was terrified!
First, all you wanted was to save your life and now you have so many more things to consider. The more we have, the more we desire, isn’t it? A reality of life!
She had two unhealed wounds in her stomach. So the chemotherapy pre-scheduled was postponed and after some time, despite the unhealed wounds, the chemotherapy was conducted. Because any delay in the proceeding would turn out to be catastrophic.
It was her first chemotherapy session. Intense heat coming out of the stomach, hurting badly, the body burst into red rashes. Overcome by sudden nausea and lower back pain. More and more suffering! She thought when the surgery was over, the pain would subside but it was just a part of the story. Even I had a tough time imagining the situation. I wonder how painful it was for her and her family members. Dr. Makker came and calmed her. The further session went good and increased self-confidence in her.
Because of the weakness, it was very difficult for her even to get up from her bed. Her father helped her get up, take one little step and gradually she was able to walk up until the river.
“I hoped against hope that nothing untoward would occur.” The moment of being a dull and defeated person again.
But self-healing is the best remedy. The power of visualizations and affirmations is well-presented.
Out of nowhere, one early morning she’s a problem. She then kept in a private room and no one is allowed without an apron and gloves (stay in quarantine). Zeena-di who stayed with her a lot of times. Walked to the parks with her and helped her boost confidence.
Being a Cancer Free!
She responded to chemotherapy well. She’s more positive and so 6 months of chemotherapy was reduced to 4 months. More intense, deep and strong prayers helped. Cancer markers had dropped from 40 to 9. She wanted to make it zero. More prayers and affirmations. A few days later, it was five. Chanting mantras, Surya mantra, oneness Mool mantra 108 times, more affirming mantras
like “I’m healed”, “I am strong” reciting 108 times. Visualizing the bright yellow rays of the Sun smashing the green, spicy cancer cells into pieces.
Dr. Chi was surprised to see the markers reduce considerably and further dropped to 3. April 30, 2013, and she’s completely CANCER-FREE!
Wow! I was having goosebumps while reading this.
Further reading: Marital Rape in Nepal
Post Cancer Situation
And when she thought of the future, she was saddened. A layer of dark clouds loomed over; financial security and career ahead. But she was determined enough to face it all.
“If you are born with the ability to change someone’s perspectives or emotions, never waste that gift. It is one of the most powerful gifts God can give- the ability to influence.” That’s what your stories of undergoing through cancer and the journey of surpassing and healing have done. Deeply indebted for this precious gift. ?
She learned the power of waking up early, morning walks and bounties nature laid upon. Also about mindfulness and bliss.
It was the end of the book for me. Further, she had mentioned about her reconnections with childhood in Kathmandu. Everything was going alright. Did a speaking session as well.
Once, she had a problem in her liver. She got panicked guessing it to be a relapse of cancer. A sigh of relief as the cancer markers showed no distinction. However, it was jaundice. Then, her life was all about self-care, self-mastery, and self-discipline.
Toxic Relationship and overcoming it
She has mentioned about how toxic relationship degraded the quality of her life and how painful it was to get over it. In this chapter, she has mentioned a powerful quote by Herman Hesse “Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”
Manisha also has relationship advice to women: ”Try as hard as you can, but if it seems like a situation beyond repair, please do not suffer silently. Don’t let societal shame or pressure keep you tied to a situation. Ask for help. Reach out. If you keep on enduring it silently, your body will become a host to potential diseases.”
It truly makes sense. We can witness a lot of people sticking to the relationship merely for the sake of continuing it. Maybe a high time, we reflect upon our relationship and ask ourselves if we are in a toxic relationship or in general toxic friend circle? And I believe, it works not just for women but also to men as well.
Similar reading: 12 tips on how to overcome breakup!
Manisha has admitted the fact that alcohol had been a means to escape reality, to overcome shyness and socialize. She also confronts that when reflected back to those days of drinking and getting negatively popular in media, she regrets and feels sad about those incidents.
Spiritual Beginning at Oneness University
Her stay at Oneness University for almost a year was all about self-realization. She understood about aloneness and its significance, the deeper understanding of the reasons why her relationships were failing, fake friendships vs real friendships, etc. A wrong lifestyle which resulted in diseases and the worst of all; Cancer.
One of the greatest realizations she had was “Instead of nurturing myself, I began seeking out nurturers.”
Seeking Meaning of Life
Manisha Koirala after being Cancer free began to seek the higher meaning of life. It was already seeded during her stay at Oneness University. She has quoted thought-provoking questions from ancient Egyptians. Here it is:
“Ancient Egyptians believe that upon death the soul was asked two profound questions;
First: Did you bring Joy?
Second: Did you find Joy?”
I was asking these questions to myself as well. The answer was; I am on my way. ?
Similarly, she has asked us the readers a question; are you the kind of person you’d like to be with? Are you the friend people would seek out for the company? Indeed, a thoughtful question to be asked, isn’t it?
Further reading: Nirmal Purja and the project possible!
Each passing day, I would read lesser and lesser. I was scared of finishing it soon. When I first started reading the book, the front cover picture seemed a normal portrait. Later on, it glowed more than before. After finishing each day’s reading, I would look at the picture and I couldn’t resist smiling. I was more content and a moment of serenity sparkled within me. Thank you so much for the tons of inspiration. That’s what the world is in dire need of. Much Love!
Learning from the book!
Here are some of the convey messages I got from the book:
- Nothing is as important as our health. Health should be in the topmost priority before anything else. Because of her health conditions, she had to go through years of suffering and now she has been gifted a second chance. So, if health is not taken care of, nothing can prosper.
- It is important to be self-centered. This doesn’t necessarily mean being selfish. However, if we don’t put ourselves in the first place, we are placing ourselves as options.
- Paying it forward; when we receive help from someone, it is equally important to forward the help to somebody else in the future as well. Her post-cancer journey is inspiring; trying to help and reach out to as many women and children as possible.
- The most important of all; staying resilient no matter what the situation is. This might sound cliche but that is what she did during the time of adversity and now we can see where she stands. Her journey of life is an example in itself.
Happy reading! ?