2 November,2014:Â Actress, model and cancer survivor Lisa Ray says the courage to make individual choices strengthens the bond between couples.
Q: You’re an avid traveller and a self-confessed nomad. What are the best lessons you learned while exploring the world?
You know, I was a very studious child though my life took a very different turn.But I don’t regret not completing my formal education simply because the lessons I have learned in the course of travelling have been far more enriching. They taught me independence, gave me great life skills, and most importantly, they instilled tolerance in me.I travel to challenge myself.
Q: How does it feel to get married and settle down in one place after living a globetrotting life for so long?
I still haven’t settled down! Interestingly, for the next foreseeable future, I am shifting back to Mumbai, and will be commuting between India and Hong Kong – that’s where my husband (Jason Dehni) is going to be.And we are going to continue our travels. I have realised one thing: marriage has not slowed me down. The way I see it, I know I am in the right relationship, because I don’t feel chained or tied down. I feel like I have wings and I can fly. Jason is so supportive because he has come to understand that travel is in my blood and he knows how important India is to me. He has accepted that I will be staying in another country and we will have to make it work. It’s actually an ideal life for me. I have come to understand that marriage is what you make of it. You have to have the courage to make individual choices, even if you are in a relationship.Once you are married, you shouldn’t have to give up on your passions; else it will be dangerous. Marriage should give you the courage to do what you want.
Q: You have said that cancer is your biggest blessing and the catalyst that changed your life…
Let me be clear – cancer is a blessing I don’t wish on anyone. Everyone comes to a point in life when they have to evolve. They need to make choices and follow certain paths.No matter who you are, what your social or financial background is, you are inevitably going to face a crisis in life. It could be a serious health issue, a financial struggle or emotional trauma. The trick is to see this crisis as an opportunity for growth, as opposed to an obstacle. As humans, we tend to become very complacent about life. There are certain changes we need to make in our life, which don’t happen unless we get a rude shock. That’s how I shaped my cancer journey. Earlier, I was so self-absorbed and caught up in myself. I wouldn’t listen to anyone. Cancer helped me make positive changes, physically, mentally, as well as spiritually. Hence, I call it a blessing. I am actually thriving on my cancer. I met my husband after getting diagnosed, I rediscovered my passion for writing during cancer and now I am going to start acting again.
Q: Despite not being in the best of shape, you went public with your battle against the illness on the red carpet. What gave you the confidence?
I find it weird when people tell me I was so brave and confident. When you have nothing to lose, you understand what’s important, gain perspective and find freedom. I was dealing with a life-threatening disease, what did it matter that I was 40 pounds heavier? Ironically, it gave me a kind of freedom, especially since I belong to the entertainment business. Women, in general, are always scrutinised or criticised for their looks. We always feel like we aren’t good enough. We constantly compare ourselves with others – it is the biggest social disease of modern society. We need to start being gentle and loving towards ourselves. Once I was diagnosed and it really sunk in that I might die, my looks didn’t matter. I just wanted to enjoy every moment.
But it’s not easy. I am still living with this condition and undergoing treatment. My body has changed permanently and I am never going to get my old body back. Sometimes, I struggle with that. But I need to look at the bigger picture. I am very proud of all the scars I carry. They’ve made me who I am.
Q: The physical fallout of a serious illness can affect the confidence of a woman.How do you suggest one can deal with it?
Set your own standards and benchmarks.Aim to grow as a complete individual. Society is always going to throw things at you, which you may or may not agree with. But women need to have courage to stand up to these and say, `That doesn’t work for me’.
Having said that, I won’t dispute the fact that you are going to have extremely low days. You will lose your hair, feel bloated and your body will go through a lot of changes.During these times, don’t push your emotions aside, that would be very unhealthy.You should grieve and then move on. You must understand that you are human, and this state isn’t permanent. Common kindness, inner strength and resilience are what people value in the end.
Apart from doing yoga and meditation, I chill with friends. I avoid stressful people and situations!
I love dressing up and I am happy about what is happening on the ramps in India. I think we are starting to realise our potential as a fashion-forward country. I dress up according to my mood. I like mixing the tradition of India with the comfort of the west.
Apart from green smoothies and juices, I eat vegetarian food on most days. I have cut out my entire diary intake.Health experts have told me that you can actually reverse the effects of your illness simply through nutrition. Stay away from processed food.
I could get away with a lot in my 20s, not now.Moisturising is important. I keep myself hydrated with water and green juices. I go for regular facials and massages as I believe body work is really important. Since I travel a lot, I try to keep it simple. I use only non-toxic, organic creams and serums, post cancer.
Source:The Times of India