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The Importance of Support: Binny's Story

In the weeks before a sixteenth birthday, most people might be planning a party, an outing with friends or scheduling a driving test at the DMV. For Binny Bhakta, it was in these weeks when she was diagnosed with stage II Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. Once the biopsies confirmed her diagnosis, she underwent three months of chemotherapy and a month of radiation.

While Binny was suddenly faced with a variety of unanticipated challenges due to her diagnosis and treatment, it was her incredible support system that kept her going.

“Throughout my journey my mom and dad supported me in every way they could,” says Binny. “From physically driving me to every appointment, to staying with me during long cycles of chemotherapy. They were there every step of the way.”

Binny’s support system also included her siblings, who would validate her when she was “in the feels.” They also knew when she needed a pick-me-up. Binny also expressed the support from people like her basketball coach and high school friends helped her stay strong.

“Throughout my diagnosis and treatment there was one consistent thing that I thought about—basketball,” explains Binny. “Getting back on the court was my motivation to get through treatment and to push through the times when I didn’t feel amazing. My coach, Mr. Doug Pitkin, would call to check up on me, and from time to time, he would cancel practice just so I could come in and shoot a couple baskets. This meant the world to me as it gave me hope.”

This support system expanded to include Valley Children’s oncology team. Since Binny spent countless hours at Valley Children’s, she became very close to her doctors and nurses.

“Valley Children’s Hospital has not only been a place of healing for me, but my medical team also became a second family,” says Binny. “They supported me through arguably one of the toughest moments of my childhood. The multidisciplinary team approached my care from different angles to facilitate a path of healing. I was constantly showered with love and kindness, even when I was being negative. To date, I still keep in touch, updating them on what’s going on with my life.”

Binny is now in good health and, with her support system still cheering her on, she is pursuing some new goals. In 2017, she graduated from University of California Los Angeles with a bachelors of arts in gender studies. Today, she is completing her doctorate in chiropractic.

“Through this journey I have overcome limitations. Limitations that were imposed on me, and limitations that I put on myself,” shares Binny. “I have learned that the key to breaking these barriers is having a positive mindset and surrounding myself with incredible people.”

When asked what advice she would give to another childhood cancer patient, Binny shares the importance of being resilient and having hope.

“The tunnel may be dark, but I promise you, there is light. There are people here who love and support you, and they will turn on lights to help guide you to the end of the tunnel. Push through the hard days, and be sure to celebrate the wins--even the little ones.”

 

Click here to read more stories from Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program participants.