Stories of Inner Strength

Stories of
Inner Strength

Deepa's Story

When Inner Strength Meets Motivation

Deepa Maurya’s cancer journey started in 2016. Since then, the 49-year-old IT professional’s cancer has relapsed five times in total. However, in spite of the ups and downs in her journey, Deepa has leveraged her inner strength to come out on top. Her dedication towards her family, her career and herself have helped her craft a rich and meaningful life free of cancer.

Deepa Maurya
1. When were you first diagnosed and how did you react to the news?

I was first diagnosed in September 2016 with Stage 1 Lung Cancer. I was informed by the respiratory doctor when I was in the ICU for a separate issue. As we had no family history of cancer, I wasn’t aware I was at risk, but because it was Stage 1, I didn’t worry too much.

2. How did treatment go for you after that initial diagnosis?

I proceeded with a lung operation and met with a new oncology doctor after recovery. However, in 2017, my cancer relapsed from Stage 1 to Stage 4. It had metastasised.

At that point, the doctor shifted to treatment, specifically to chemotherapy and immunotherapy. We started on both at the same time – I would do chemo for two to three weeks then alternate to immunotherapy for a couple weeks, and so on, so forth, up till June 2018. My PET scans about that time showed no signs of cancer so we stopped treatment altogether.

Unfortunately, I had some bad luck. My cancer relapsed again over Christmas 2018. That was followed with radiation therapy, and then because the cancer had spread to my brain, I also had a brain operation. I then continued with chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

Quote As long as there is something you can do, do it. Quote
3. What is your cancer status now? I have been in remission since 2021. It became a cancer-free year for me!
4. How do you feel about your treatment journey? You know, it's like this. Everybody says, “Oh, you're going through so much treatment.” Yes, I agree. But I believe in my doctor.

If they have this option for treatment and if it can reduce the discomfort of what I'm going through, why not we work to get some things reduced, right? So yes, I'm okay.

No matter what people used to tell me, I didn't feel bad about it and neither did I go into a negative state. Because every time, my doctors were doing their best. It's relapsing, but it’s okay. We know lung cancer. And as long as there is something you can do, do it.

Deepa Maurya
5. How did you overcome those negative feelings?

Right after my initial diagnosis and lung operation, I actually slipped into depression. My respiratory doctor asked me what was my hobby. I said I don’t have any. He then asked me to find a new craft to start, as I used to love crafts in school. That’s when I discovered quilling. From there I also learned beadwork and how to make keychains and such.

I sometimes sit and do this all night, instead of lying down and letting the negative thoughts come. Because mostly these thoughts come in the night. This is something I do to keep myself calm. Crafts keep my mind free of depression and negative thinking.

Deepa Maurya
6. How did your friends and family support you through your journey?

There was always someone somewhere to help me in my cancer journey. Friends were there whenever I went for operations and whenever my condition worsened.

When any major relapse happened, I used to always take my husband and son to my appointments because everybody may have a different question to ask, and everybody's understanding is different.

I never kept my son out of it. I realized he was more active than my husband in looking at the things! If I had questions, he’d Google them then ask my doctor. And almost all the basic household activities were and are taken care by my husband. So, we just went with the flow together.

7. What are other things that have helped fuel your inner strength?

Something that really motivated me was returning to work. It just refreshed my mind to be there, even if I had further stress at work. Also, working allowed me to stay on top of my treatment costs. My husband takes care of the family, housing and my son's education, so I can use my entire salary just for my treatment along with my personal insurance.

I still work now and that helps keep my mind occupied. I also volunteer for Singapore Cancer Society, for Bishan where I’m the chairperson, as well as Katong Community Centre’s C2E.

8. How did people react to your activities?

People used to think that there’s something really wrong with me; that I’m too dedicated to work and my community activities.

Initially, I used to feel bad. But afterwards, people started realizing that no matter how many times my cancer relapses, I will still be the same. I will still have the same smile, I will still go wherever I can.

9. What advice would you give to those going through lung cancer?

I don’t want to say something cliché like be positive or stay strong, but negativity will not make the treatment positive. Cancer is a journey that you need to take with a smile and an open mind. So, go with the flow. Listen to the doctors.

For financial support and treatment, please reach out to a doctor or any cancer support group. Don’t blindly believe what's written in Uncle Google, as we are not doctors who can identify what is right or wrong.

If you don't trust your doctor, it’s fine; go for a second opinion or for a third opinion, till you find one doctor who will perfectly fit you. There is nothing wrong with that. In Singapore, the doctors won’t say “no, you cannot go for a second opinion”. They’re very supportive.

Share your ‘I Can’ story

Have you been diagnosed with cancer and chose to forge ahead on your own terms? Do you have a loved one who turned to face cancer head-on? As a caregiver, do you have tips and stories of encouragement for other caregivers?

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