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Cancer helped me in becoming a better person, now I value life: Manisha Koirala

The 48-year-old actor from Nepal, who won a tough battle against ovarian cancer said on Sunday at the Jaipur Literature Festival that the dreaded disease had changed her as a person, as she is now kinder and values her life and health more. It was very important to have an open conversation about the disease which had made her kinder, gentler and had taught her that we are all interconnected and intertwined. He added further saying that “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 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.

“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, she 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. While talking about the support she received, Manisha said that 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 goodwill ambassador for the UN Population Fund.

She further added that it would be nice if women go out and prove themselves, make a statement for themselves and make it known that they deserve something rather than playing a victim card. However, to a question on her biopic, she 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”.


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