A Bollywood actress and singer has opened up about her battle with breast cancer after she was diagnosed with the disease while heavily pregnant.
Veronica Mehta, 44, of Uxbridge, was told she had grade three breast cancer at 35 weeks along in October 2016, and had to have a cesarean to deliver her third child, a son called Veer, so that she could start treatment, reports the Daily Mail.
Speaking on ITV’s Lorraine, the mother-of-three, whose performances have racked up millions of views on YouTube, recalled the shock of being diagnosed while pregnant, and her ‘devastation’ at having to tell her family the news in what was supposed to be a happy time.
Mehta, who underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy, is now cancer free, but kept her illness a secret from a fans because of the stigma surrounding cancer in the South Asian community, she says. Now she wants to encourage other Asian women to get regular check ups because she believes they are embarrassed about being examined by male doctors, and think cancer is ‘not going to happen to them.’
She first noticed a lump in her breast when she was 20 weeks pregnant which became more painful over time and was 35 weeks along when she got the diagnosis. At first she didn’t think the lump would be cancerous as there is no history of the disease in her family and she lived a healthy lifestyle, so was shocked when she was diagnosed with the disease.
Mehta said: “It was a big shock and my concern was for my children, and I didn’t know if the cancer had passed to my unborn child, I didn’t understand. Everything was just go go go, got to get baby out, C-section, treatments have got to begin. Instead of preparing for the birth of our son it just turned into this crazy time.”
The star has a huge public profile in Bollywood, and the video for her song ‘Mere Dil Mein’ has been watched 26 million times on YouTube. She decided not to go public with her battle, but told her close family members. At the time her older children were just six and four-years-old. She continued, “I told my immediate family and that was devastating, to give that news to them it was horrific. I felt like someone had stabbed me in the heart. How do you tell your mother, how do you tell your children? It was very intense to say the least.”
After she recovered, Mehta decided that she had to speak about her illness, hoping that she could at least ‘save one person’ by encouraging them to get their own breasts checked.
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