Overcoming the Odds, Busy Mum Nisha’s Inspiring Journey as a Cancer Survivor

At the age of 36, Nisha faced a formidable adversary – Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. 

They had just moved from Washington DC to Dallas and Nisha was working hard to establish a sense of normality in their new home. 

“I was quite stressed as this was the 3rd time we had moved across the country. I wanted us to be able to maintain our lifestyle and I wanted to make sure the kids were well adjusted in this new space.” 

With all of this weighing down on her, Nisha’s health began to falter. She had this  mysterious pain lingering in her lower back, and no amount of X-rays or MRIs could pinpoint the cause of the back pain. 

Seeking answers, Nisha navigated a labyrinth of medical specialists, from gastroenterologists to rheumatologists, and finally, to oncologists. But it was the same refrain: “We don’t know what it is.”

“One of the results said that I had a mild fatty liver and it was recommended that I try to lose weight. So I made some changes to my diet and I went from 120 lbs to 100 lbs in just a few months. I thought it was because of the diet that I lost weight so quickly, I didn’t realise that it was because of the cancer.”

As the months wore on, Nisha’s condition continued to deteriorate. It wasn’t merely back pain or unexplained weight loss; it was a cascade of new and bewildering symptoms. 

She found herself weakened by a mild fever, relentless itching on her trunk, and crushing fatigue. 

“It was an agonising time. It didn’t help that this was happening during the Covid 19 pandemic. Doctors initially attributed my swollen lymph nodes to my body’s reaction to Covid. But there was a persistent lump in my throat that signalled that something more serious was at play.”

Battling With Cancer 

The fateful moment arrived when Nisha underwent a biopsy. On the day of her 9th wedding anniversary, they learned the harsh truth. Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was entrenched in her throat, back, and thoracic region. 

A gruelling regimen lay ahead, with chemotherapy scheduled every two weeks for six months. A total of 12 treatments. 

However, there was a silver lining amid the storm clouds. Nisha was fortunate enough to have a good prognosis. Her cancer responded well to the chemotherapy.

Now, two years later, Nisha has transitioned from remission to complete cure. 

But all along, Nisha was riddled with guilt.

“I found myself asking repeatedly, ‘Why me?’. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 7 years old. I lead a healthy lifestyle. I’m physically active. I dance; I practise Pilates; I go rock climbing; I do yoga!”

But Nisha’s inner strength and unwavering optimism reminded her that cancer’s mysteries are far from unravelled, and it was not her fault.

Her experience taught her the profound truth that cancer can touch anyone, regardless of how health-conscious they may be.

And so, she reminds herself every day that she is not alone in this battle. Her experience, though uniquely challenging, is part of a larger tapestry of those who have confronted cancer with courage.

Starting RNT 

Nisha’s husband, Bhavin Vivek, had benefited hugely from the RNT programme. The programme had completely transformed his life and he was keen on Nisha experiencing it for herself.

“To me, joining RNT was a gift to myself. I wanted to treat my body like a temple. It’s so magnificent what our bodies are capable of in terms of recovery. 

My body helped me fight cancer and come out the other end. I realised I needed to give something back to it and treat it with more respect than I previously had.”

Nisha is aware that she may have to face cancer again. 

“Ultimately my ‘why’ is giving my body the best chance possible every day. Because that’s the only thing that I have control over. So if I do get  diagnosed again, I don’t want to feel the guilt that I had the first time because I know I’m doing everything I can to stay healthy”

Going 100% Vegan 

Nisha had been vegetarian since she was a young girl. For the past few years, she had been longing to turn vegan, but she just didn’t have the know-how. She believed that RNT would help her switch to being 100% vegan.

“One of the biggest things that inspired me is that I realised Akash (RNT Founder) was plant based. I saw the photographs and they were very inspirational. I realised that the owner of RNT had some of the very same values that I did. And that helped me take the last step and sign up. I literally went to bed a vegetarian and I woke up on the 9th of January a total vegan. And I haven’t gone back even once in these 9 months” 

Nisha loves how healthy and energetic she feels on a plant-based diet. But that wasn’t the only reason she chose to give up all animal products. 

“I love all animals and I don’t want to cause them any pain. Plus the impact the meat industry has on the environment is calamitous!”

Embracing the Process 

As a self proclaimed rule follower, Nisha set up a structure that helped her tick off all the boxes on her to-do list. 

With a large 3-litre water bottle by her side and regular reminders she makes sure she drinks enough water. She makes time for her training, cardio and steps after dropping her kids off at school.

At first, some of the food on her plan wasn’t familiar, but she wasn’t going to let that stop her. 

“I had never eaten tempeh before, so when I found that it was in my meal plan for the first two weeks, I was at a loss on how to cook it. So I threw the tempeh with some berries in a blender and chugged it down!” 

Fortunately, Nisha has learnt how to make delicious meals with tempeh now and doesn’t have to gulp it down in liquid form any more. 

While Nisha has her daily structure in place, one of her biggest struggles is in managing guilt around food-waste. 

Raised in a traditional Indian family that valued every morsel of food, Nisha has grappled with the habit of overeating and the guilt that comes with leaving food on her plate. 

“I don’t force my kids to finish the food on their plate anymore. If they can’t finish the food on their plate, they pack it up and put it in the refrigerator to eat another day. And this helps them become more aware of their body’s needs.” 

Now Nisha is focused on exploring intuitive eating, aiming to find a balance between nourishing her body and reducing waste.

Celebrating With A Photoshoot 

Nisha wanted to mark her nine-month journey of transformation with a photoshoot. 

“The photoshoot was the perfect way to celebrate my health and vitality while creating lasting memories. My journey has had a profound impact on my children and my family. We all train together in the gym and we make sure we hit our 10,000 steps a day. Even my father, who is 71 years old, goes to the gym now!”

Nisha’s journey isn’t just about physical change; it’s a story of inner confidence blossoming after facing cancer with courage. 

As she regained her vitality, her transformation began from within, radiating outward.

The Podcast

In Ep 360 of RNT Fitness Radio, Nisha speaks to Akash about her battle with cancer and how she went from surviving to thriving with cancer. With the knowledge she has gained from RNT, she has all the odds stacked in her favour in case she has to face that battle again. 

In this episode she says, “Thank you for creating this program. I cannot say it enough. So grateful for the impact that it has had on myself and our family. It has really taught me how to live. And so I really appreciate all of my coaches who have supported and stood by us while we went through this journey.” 

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