I am a breast cancer survivor. And this is my story

Written by Himani Rathore

Robot wearing a VR set

October 18, 2021 | Bina Prasad

When I joined ONGC Energy Centre (OEC) in 2008, it was a small group of about 7-8 full-time employees. The HR Manual was just being finalized, and the onus of implementing the processes and procedures, as well as staffing the different sections, and putting in place, proper functioning departments, fell on me. However, with jest and enthusiasm, I went ahead executing one task at a time. Under my supervision and leadership, the first recruitment exercise in OEC was carried out, and 8 bright young engineers from top colleges, like IITs, were engaged by OEC as Project Fellows for project work.

In 2009, however, I received a news that shattered me. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer (right side). The hardest thing was to hear the doctors declare that breast surgery (complete removal) was the only option left to save my life. At such a time, I felt like giving up and going into a cocoon of depression and self-pity. But I instead went ahead with the surgery and I didn’t inform my two children who were in different parts of the world, because I did not want them to get disturbed.     

With my husband by my side, I underwent surgery on December 7, 2009. I was released from the hospital on 15th Dec’09, and decided to resume duty from 16th, though my 22 stitches had still not been removed. My stitches were removed on 29th Dec’09. The post-operative procedures took a toll on my health.

But that was not the end of my ordeal. My battle against cancer was only half-won. At first, my oncologist had said that my cancer was at preliminary stage and that on removal of my breast, I would be completely cured. But fate would have it otherwise, as when the operated portion was sent for biopsy, it was found that there were traces of cancer in the Lymph nodes, so I was told that I would have to undergo six sessions of Chemotherapy. It was very disheartening for me, and at first, I refrained from doing so. But my love and the encouragement I received from my family made me go for it.

I had my 1st Chemo on Jan 29, 2010 and the next ones were scheduled after twenty-one days gap.  From the 20th day of my 1st Chemo, I started having loss of hair in flocks. But I continued coming to office. The first hesitation was how people would react on looking at my bald head. I didn’t let that stop me from showing up at work.

I was always a believer in the adage: “No matter how bad you feel – get up, dress up and show up!” I joined back work only within 9 days of my surgery and continued to discharge my duties as the Administrative Head of OEC. The 6 chemotherapy sessions spread across the year upto April 2010.

One of the major challenges was the shifting of OEC office to a new premise. Inspite of all the constraints that such a job brings with it, I successfully managed the setting-up of the office, with complete infrastructure and facilities, and the new office was inaugurated by the then Director (HR)-ONGC, who expressed his appreciation of the office set-up during the visit. Further, I successfully implemented a Performance Management System for Project Fellows, as also an Incentive Scheme for talent motivation and retention of Project Fellows in OEC, after due approval of the OEC Trust. A Performance Management System was also put in place for the position of DG-OEC.

During that time period, I was able to put in place an atmosphere in OEC where the employees had direct access to management. All employees were encouraged to approach their manager, or any member of management, to discuss any problem or question. All employees were expected to voice their opinions and contribute their suggestions to improve the quality of work environment and performance at ONGC Energy Centre. 

In addition to my official role, I also played an important part of women development initiatives as Vice President-WIPS Apex of Forum of Women in Public Sector (WIPS) and as an active member of Women Development Forum (WDF), as well as ONGC Mahila Samiti.

I am a Life Member of National Institute of Personnel Management (NIPM), Life Member of All India Women Conference (AIWC) & Life Member of the Forum of Women in Public Sector (WIPS). I have been the Secretary of Women Welfare Society (WWS), ECL; Secretary of Rotary Club of Kulti, RD 3240 and Chairperson of Women Development Forum (WDF), ONGC, Tripura Asset, Agartala. As Life Member of WIPS – Iserved as President-Eastern Region (1997-98), while at ECL, as an EC Member of WIPS- Northern Region while at ONGC Dehradun (1998-2005), and as President of WIPS-Eastern Region (2006-2009).               

The two philosophies of my life are ‘’Never to give up and Always to Excel” and “Do your best & for betterment of all without any reservations.” My husband is my pillar of strength.

The story of Bina is one of courage, determination and sacrifice. She is a role model for all women professionals to emulate. Her exemplary grit and determination in the face of life-threatening cancer, showing tremendous dedication and love for her profession, makes her a role model for all women professionals, especially those suffering from breast cancer, showing that life doesn’t have to stop at cancer, that there is a silver lining behind the dark clouds and that with courage, one can unleash one’s potential even under the most difficult times.           

About Bina        
Bina Prasad is a Science Graduate from Isabella Thoburn College, Lucknow and a Postgraduate in Social Services with specialisation in Personnel Management & Industrial Relations, from Xavier Institute of Social Services (XISS), Ranchi. Bina started her career in 1985, as Welfare Officer (Trainee) in Eastern Coalfields Ltd. (a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd.), After serving 13 years in ECL in various capacities, she joined the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. (ONGC), in 1998 on deputation as Deputy Manager (Personnel & Admin), and was absorbed in ONGC as Manager(P&A) in 2001. She retired from ONGC as General Manager (HR) in June, 2016. She had headed the Administrative Support Unit in ONGC Energy Centre, Delhi. The ONGC Energy Centre (OEC) is an R&D initiative by ONGC towards encouraging and developing sustainable renewable energy sources, beyond hydrocarbons.

 

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