Episode 33: Navigating cancer as a family, with Samira’s mom Monika

Samira’s mom, Monika Daswani, joins the podcast to discuss her experience navigating Samira's cancer diagnosis and treatment as her caregiver. Monika, a trained chef by profession, shares her perspective on caring for her daughter during her cancer treatment including the challenges of maintaining nutrition during treatment, adapting meals to symptoms, and the importance of a strong support network. Monika emphasizes the role of faith, spirituality, and intent in both caregiving and healing. She also discusses her work leading the Helping Hands Foundation, which supports cancer patients in India.

About our guest

Monika Daswani is the CEO and a member of Helping Hands's Board of Directors. With her leadership, Helping Hands pivoted from a general non-profit to embrace the mission to spread awareness about cancer diagnosis, early detection, and support other patients and caregivers. She was the primary caregiver to her daughter, who was diagnosed with cancer. A self-taught chef, Monika Daswani has dedicated her life to the gourmet food catering industry. She is the Founder and CEO of Kitchen Stories, a food catering company that has provided Kolkata, and numerous cities in India, access to global cuisine for over 2 decades.

Watch the video of our episode on YouTube

  • 7 minutes:

    On the various roles within a family helping to care for a loved one.

    The whole family wanted to be there with and for Samira. We are a small family of five, and each of us contributed in our own way for her. I was looking after Samira's food. My husband, who is very good at doing research, was helping me with handling symptoms with the correct food and home remedies. Raghav was Samira's emotional support. My other son Rohin, because he also lives in San Francisco, knew the healthcare system and could negotiate and set up appointments and get reports.

  • 10 minutes:

    On how faith has played a part in her caregiving journey.

    I essentially work on faith. And I have enough faith, as I tell my family, for my entire family. Because I know I'm not alone, and I know the universe is there for me, and I think the universe is actually there for everyone. It's just up to us to realize him and absorb that energy from him. And as a caregiver, I think that is what I did because there is only so much that you can do as a human being. There is so much more that you require to be able to successfully survive this journey because at every point, it's trying to bring you down.

  • 12 minutes:

    On nutrition during cancer treatments.

    Feeding her during chemo was all about focusing on how much nutrition and energy can be absorbed from what you are taking in because a body needs it all. The body is battling all those poisons that are going in. All the good cells, bad cells, everything is getting killed. We need the body to fight back. Because I come from India, when we cook, we believe that it's your thoughts and it's your vibrations that get transmitted in the food that you cook. It's your intent. And that's what I would focus on.

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