Post-cancer, I'm back to extraordinary life: Lisa Ray

Lisa+Ray.jpg

By Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, July 31 (IANS) Canada-based Lisa Ray is in no hurry to act and is instead keen to spread cancer awareness and write a book. "I am engaging with the world, but with a different quality now," says the model-actress who is leading a healthy life after fighting a rare cancer of plasma cells.

"My disease, multiple myeloma, is in remission. We don't take the attitude that it is ever gone completely, but we monitor regularly and now I'm leading a particularly healthy life," Lisa, 38, told IANS in an e-mail interview.

"I'm not back to a normal life, but an extraordinary life because of the insights I've gotten and the changes I've made to my lifestyle."

Lisa, who looks forward to the release of her film "Cooking With Stella", is trying to do things she enjoys but is living life on her own terms.

"I think I sacrificed a lot of my life for my career to date...Cancer is a huge wakeup call. I'd also like to raise a lot more awareness for cancer...That will be an integral part of my career. As well as writing a book."

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. Is your illness completely gone? How far are you back to your normal life?

A. My disease, multiple myeloma, is in remission. We don't take the attitude that it is ever gone completely, but we monitor regularly and now I'm leading a particularly healthy life...that's why research is so important in the field of multiple myeloma - the next drug could be the one that saves my life.

Someone told me, 'healing begins when you realise there's no cure'. I am not back to a normal life, but an extraordinary life because of the insights I've gotten and the changes I've made to my lifestyle. In a word: simplified.

Q. The tenor of regular life beckons you, Lisa. Have you fully surrendered to it?

A. I am engaging with the world, but with a different quality now. I do my best not to get stressed or over-extend myself, as was my habit before. I don't think there's such a thing as 'regular life' - there's just life with many different shades. So I'm doing a variety of things, but on my own terms. And I'm trying to invest in the things that I enjoy. I'm also still recovering from the stem cell transplant, so I have to take it slow at times.

Q. One reads that you are going through severe post-illness trauma. How are you coping?

A. I'm coping as anyone does. I have good days and bad. Also what I'm going through is not unusual - so many people go through similar experiences post-cancer. I don't want to sensationalise any of it but perhaps just to share and raise awareness...I'm learning a lot and mostly about how to practise compassion with myself.

Q. Have you gradually gotten back into the full swing of your career?

A. I don't believe in a swinging career. I believe in living my life to the fullest and career is just one small aspect. I think I sacrificed a lot of my life for my career to date and it's time to balance this out now. Cancer is a huge wake-up call.

Having said that, I'm exploring new creative opportunities. The point is to chase joy. I've also had some unexpected honours recently. I was invited to MC (Master of Ceremonies) a luncheon for the Queen in Toronto and I was also seated at the head table. It was a great experience.

I'd also like to raise a lot more awareness for cancer, multiple myeloma and stem cell technology. That will be an integral part of my career. As well as writing a book.

Q. Your "Cooking With Stella" would be releasing soon. How do you look back on the experience?

A. "Cooking with Stella" was memorable and enjoyable as it gave me the opportunity to work with Dilip Mehta. I loved shooting in Delhi.

Q. Have you signed any more films?

A. I haven't yet signed another film. I'm in no hurry. I don't want to spread myself too thin as I'm getting offers to appear as a speaker across North America and I use this as platform from which to raise awareness for multiple myeloma.

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