‘My cancer diagnosis: What I wish I’d known’ – Roshen Tikari (w/PODCAST)

October 16, 2013 | by Wayne Lewis

One in a series of stories asking former patients to reflect upon their experience ...


 Three-time lymphoma survivor Roshen Tikari made it through by keeping her family and friends close.


When Roshen Tikari received her first lymphoma diagnosis, 30 years ago, she experienced a flood of fear and anxiety.

When she received her third diagnosis, last year, that deluge of emotion was replaced with a calm sense of purpose.

“When it came back for the third time, I didn’t freak out. There was no fear,” said Tikari, a resident of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. “‘OK. It’s come back. Just deal with it; attend to it; get rid of it.’”

It helped that she had City of Hope on her side. From the chemotherapy that drove away lymphoma in 1983 to the bone marrow transplant that conquered a recurrence seven years later to the clinical trial that led to complete remission earlier this year, the medical team at City of Hope has rewarded Tikari’s faith with a return to health.

Along the way, her experiences with cancer propelled her to a kind of hard-won personal growth.

PODCAST: Roshen Tikari talks about her story, her perspective and her advice in City of Hope’s Cancer Journeys podcast. Download and listen >>>

“Before that, I was just existing. And then, after going through all my treatments and I came out of it, I started to live,” she said.


The latest good news — complete remission — arrived this year at a meaningful time for the proud mother and grandmother.

“It was the greatest Mother’s Day gift I’ve ever received,” she said.

We asked Tikari to look back at the time of her diagnosis and to ask herself what she knows now that she wishes she’d known then. What wisdom, soothing words, practical tips or just old-fashioned advice would she give her newly diagnosed self?

1. Take control of your fears.

When I was first diagnosed, fear was my enemy. At the time, I thought ‘the big C’ was a death sentence. The fear overpowered me, and it felt like my world came grinding to a halt.

In hindsight, I would say, 'Don’t let fear defeat you.'

2. Educate yourself.

Knowledge is power. At first, I didn’t want to know anything about what was going on. Later, I came to see that knowing what I was facing helped me to cope better.

3. Don’t blame yourself.

You’re not at fault for your cancer. In fact, it’s nobody’s fault. This is just something that happened to you.

4. Your family is on this journey with you.

The support of my family and friends was priceless.

At first, I didn’t want to tell my son, who was 7 at the time, about my diagnosis. A nurse gave me this advice — children have a very vivid imagination, and if they sense something is wrong but don’t know what, it will make it worse. I had a talk with him, told him what was happening and reassured him. I’m glad that I did.

5. Be positive.

By the time of my third diagnosis, I approached my treatment with a much healthier attitude. I believe that helped lead to a positive outcome.

6. Be kind to yourself.

You’re important. Your family is important. This is a time to take good care of yourself.

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