Once Upon My chest: A breast cancer memoir by Phoolo Danny-Maharaj


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“Once Upon My Chest” is filled with glimpses of the strength of a woman as she goes through the horrifying journey from diagnosis of breast cancer, preparing to lose her sacred marks of womanhood, the crippling side-effects of treatment, and her struggle to protect her family from her agony. Urged by a nagging sixth sense, author Phoolo Danny-Maharaj became more attentive to the eerie feelings and unusual changes in her body one year before the actual diagnosis of aggressive invasive breast cancer. A journalist for three decades, the author takes her readers through recognizing the nagging disquiet in the ‘cancer cells’ to identifying and monitoring the physical changes in her body that led to early diagnosis. A vegetarian, teetotaler, and non-smoker, she has no history of cancer in her family. Writing with simplicity, humility, and humour, she gives unmatched insight into waking up to feel the flatness of her chest for the first time, to experience premature aging, hair loss, phantom pains, and menopause. She takes the reader with her through the intimate physical limitations and mental turmoil, waves of tears, and laughter, frustration and fulfillment, weakness and strengths, determination and endurance, and daily issues faced by breast cancer patients and their loved ones. She embraces flowing prose, speckled with simple poetry and prayers as therapy for coping. She writes in most glowing terms of the incredible support system that helped her heal faster.In this thought-provoking story of pain, determination, faith, and hope, the writer ended the book with an entreaty to all, especially women to listen to their bodies and to act when something does not feel right.It was during her years of treatment through desperation and eventual survival that she realized her calling to speak out, to share her story, to encourage others to monitor their bodies. The importance of early detection and quick action to save lives is seen throughout this enlightening and inspiring breast cancer memoir. Anyone reading this book would soar with the writer from the pits of despair and pain to heights of positivity, gratitude, and increased faith.


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