When adversity strikes us, it is our attitude towards the situation that truly matters. It is like the potatoes, eggs and coffee put in boiling water. When they come in contact with boiling water; the potatoes soften, the eggs harden and the coffee beans that give out its flavour to the water. We can choose to be either the potato that softens and gives up or an egg that hardens to face every struggle with a smile or still better like the coffee beans that spread its aroma and create something new. Life is all about striking a balance, about adopting and converting the struggles for transforming into better human beings each day; for the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg.
In life many things happen to us and many a times these wrong turns get us to the right place. The story of Mayura Shivalkar, the triathlete cancer survivor from Belgaum is no different. She completed the half Ironman Colombo 70.3 back to back in Feb 2018 (7h 25m) and Feb 2019 (7h 54m) alongside fighting the battle for life against Breast Cancer.
10th January 2018; it was a day of tremendous joy and excitement, when Mayura received the confirmation for participating in the half Ironman Colombo 70.3 to be held on Feb 25th 2018. She hadn’t taken the participation seriously until then; however she decided to give it a shot with very little time left for preparation. The event includes a sea-swim of 1.9 km, cycling for 90km and run of 21.1 km in adverse climatic conditions; temperatures as high as 39/40 deg, high humidity, head and cross winds and is indeed stressful.
The event was scheduled in February and she fell ill, with high fever and pain in the left breast just 10 days before the event. Fighting all odds she took to the starting point, all ready to fulfil the dream of her lifetime. Despite the minimal training and illness she completed the event with a stunning 7 h and 25 m time, the cut-off being 8h 30 m. While she had still not experienced the joy of finishing the event wholly, the world came crumbling down upon her. The reports of her Mammography and Biopsy had tested positive. Yes she was suffering from Ca breast.
The treatment began with two back to back surgeries, 8 strong chemo and 30 radiation sessions; alongside the physical pain, the emotional and mental trauma, the fear of losing, the distress of not being able to train, the doubt whether she would be able to run another marathon. However she gathered all courage and with great support from friends & family, the doctors and immense faith in the almighty, she fought it bravely.
When our beliefs are strong we will always find a path, a path to conquer the fears and triumph. Mayura was finally cured of her illness completely in October 2018. To celebrate this victory over her illness and to encourage many more fighting the battle, she decided to participate in the half Ironman Colombo 70.3 in 2019. Mayura recalls that she completed the event for the second time in a row with only one thought in mind; if I can fight for eight months then 8hours is nothing.
Mayura says that ‘The battle against Cancer has taught me a lot; the uncertainties in life and how we take life for granted. We should never neglect the smallest of medical conditions and get regular checkups done especially female after the age of 40. A one hour session for physical and mental fitness is a must.’
We need to train our brain one day prior to any event be it sporting or professional and that mental strength will drive us through. Each individual should take up one hobby in life be it gardening, music, sport or anything that we strive happiness from and this will be our motivation to lead a healthy and cheerful life says the mother of a 19- year old.
From taking to running as a weight loss & de-stress regime at the age of 39, Mayura has achieved a lot over the years. Today at the age of 46, Mayura has to her credit 7 full marathons, 30 + half marathons, the recent being the Deccan Olympic Distance triathlon at Kolhapur that concluded on 24th Nov 2019. Her battle against Cancer has been featured in the Amazon best seller ‘A triumph over Breast Cancer’ by Laleh Busheri and she has been felicitated by Nawazuddin Siddique and Sachin Tendulkar for her phenomenal spirit.
Along with a huge bag of bitter and sweet experiences, each sea swim against the waves, the uphill and downhill while cycling remind her of the struggles in life and make her more passionate. Each accomplished event brings in a sense of fulfilment she says.
She hasn’t stopped at this; to create awareness, share her experiences and give courage to those suffering from Cancer she has started an NGO – the Pinkstep. The NGO mainly supports cancer patients overcome the trauma of their illness. They imbibe in patients the very thought that no one has asked for the disease, so we don’t need to hide the disease but accept it elegantly. Mayura says ‘Once you train your mind nothing is difficult. A positive outlook towards life will help us enjoy the journey gracefully and grow stronger each day.’
From being a shy, introvert, overweight female to a bold, extrovert, fit, go-getter, an inspiration to hundreds is what sporting has given this triathlete.