This correspondent speaks with Lisa Ray about her health, career and life. Here are the excerpts of the interview. Read on:-
Is your illness completely gone? How far are you back to your normal life?
My disease, Multiple Myeloma, is in remission. We don't take the attitude that it is ever gone completely, but we monitor regularly and now I'm leading a particularly healthy life. However, that's why research is so important in the field of Multiple Myeloma - the next drug could be the one that saves my life. Someone told me, 'healing begins when you realise there's no cure'. I am not back to a normal life, but an extraordinary life because of the insights I've gotten and the changes I've made to my lifestyle. In a word: simplified.
The tenor of regular life beckons you, Lisa. Have you fully surrendered to it?
I am engaging with the world, but with a different quality now. I do my best not to get stressed or over-extend myself, as was my habit before. I don't think there's such a thing as 'regular life'- there's just life with many different shades. So I'm doing a variety of things, but on my own terms. And I'm trying to invest in the things that I enjoy. I'm also still recovering from the stem cell transplant, so I have to take it slow at times.
One reads that you are going through some severe post-illness trauma. How are you coping?
I'm coping as anyone does. I have good days and bad. Also what I'm going through is not unusual- so many people go through similar experiences post- cancer. I don't want to sensationalise any of it, but perhaps just to share and raise awareness. I also think it's wrong to expect that everything will roll out in the manner we want. I'm learning a lot and mostly about how to practise compassion with myself.
You had spoken of spending time in India. When is that happening and how long will you be here?
I am in no rush and on no set schedule. I expect I will be travelling to India shortly for Rado - who have been steadfast in their support of me in this time. I will also probably be promoting 1 minute in India, with a view to donate some of the proceeds towards Multiple Myeloma research.
Have you gradually gotten back into the full swing of your career?
I don't believe in a swinging career. I believe in living my life to the fullest and career is just one small aspect of this. I think I sacrificed a lot of my life for my career to date and it's time to balance this out now. Cancer is a huge wakeup call. Having said that, I'm exploring new creative opportunities. The point is to chase joy. I've also had some unexpected honours recently. I was invited to MC a luncheon for the Queen here in Toronto and I was also seated at the head table. It was a great experience. I'd also like to raise a lot more awareness for Cancer, Multiple Myeloma and stem cell technology. That will be an integral part of my career. As well as writing a book.
Your film Cooking With Stella would be releasing soon. It would be considered a memorable experience for more than one reason. How do you look back on the experience?
Cooking With Stella was memorable and enjoyable as it gave me the opportunity to work with Dilip Mehta. I loved shooting in Delhi.
Have you signed any more films?
I haven't yet signed another film. I'm in no hurry. I don't want to spread myself too thin as I'm getting offers to appear as a speaker across North America and I use this as platform from which to raise awareness for Multiple Myeloma.
Finally you are about to share your experience of going from illness to good health at a prestigious forum in California. Looking forward to that?
As for the California forum, I have already made an appearance in LA to support the screening of Cooking with Stella at the IFFLA. The proceeds from the opening night screening went towards Dr Berenson's Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research in LA.