News & Stories

Cancer Won’t Slow Subha Down

January 30, 2024

Subha participates at the Closer to Free Ride.

Generous donors, just like you, funded the research that saved her life, and because of you, cancer won’t slow her down!

Subha is so upbeat, positive, and strong that it’s almost impossible to believe she’s had two different cancer diagnoses in less than 3 years. Despite debilitating symptoms, surgery, and ongoing treatments, Subha just doesn’t slow down.

Case in point: Just a few months after surgery and drug treatment for her first cancer, she was winning championships in six different sports leagues, racing in dragon boat competitions, running a large IT department at a major insurance company, and parenting two boys, along with her husband, Swaraj.

 Two years later — and barely one year after her second cancer diagnosis — Subha crushed the Closer to Free Ride, cycling 40 miles to raise funds for cancer research and patient care.

In 2018, Subha’s life seemed almost perfect. At age 35, she had a devoted husband, two wonderful sons, and a demanding and fulfilling career. She felt lucky to live in a close in Glastonbury community with neighbors who were almost like family.

Conquering one cancer…

Having her life derailed by cancer was the last thing Subha expected.

She dealt with her papillary thyroid cancer with her usual positive, can-do attitude. “I did my research and found this type of cancer is very curable,” she says. “I made up my mind I would manifest myself out of this.”

Subha had surgery to remove her thyroid. This was followed by a radioactive iodine therapy so powerful that she had to remain isolated for a week to prevent exposure to her family. But it wasn’t long before she resumed her pre-cancer, very active life, and eventually her doctors declared her cancer-free.

…and living with another

Then, just a couple of years later, Subha began feeling weak and fatigued. She’ll never know for sure if it was connected to the thyroid cancer, but in 2021, she received a second cancer diagnosis — chronic myeloid leukemia.

Maintaining an upbeat attitude was tougher this time. Subha’s brother-in-law had recently passed away from leukemia. “To lose a family member, so fresh on my mind, and then to hear I have leukemia — it just shook me,” Subha recalls.

Thanks to an advanced drug treatment, Subha’s leukemia is now in remission. But there are side effects, including fatigue, digestive issues, and cough. Last year, Subha was feeling so weak, she had to take a disability leave from work.

Her dear friend, neighbor, and Smilow Hospital oncologist, Jaykumar Thumar, MD, was concerned.

“He told me that I must not let that feeling sink in, that I needed to get up and work out,” Subha says.

Closer to cancer-free, thanks to you

Dr. Thumar suggested the Closer to Free Ride. Subha’s neighbors and friends rallied to join and her team, Subha’s Minions, was born in 2022. Dr. Thumar is the team’s captain and one of Subha’s biggest cheerleaders. Last year, Subha’s Minions completed its second ride. Subha rode 65 Miles!

“It all started from Jay wanting to ensure that his very good friend and patient — me! — got the exercise I needed,” says Subha. “Now everyone is out there for me, saying, ‘Subha, you got this!’”

You can count on seeing Subha riding again next September, in the 2024 Closer to Free Ride. “I love the exercise and camaraderie, but for me, it’s more about the fundraising,” she says.

“Twenty years ago,” Subha adds, “this diagnosis came with a five-year life expectancy. Today, there is a targeted cell drug therapy that allows you to live with this disease. I’m well aware that someone paid for this research. Closer to Free is my way of paying it forward for a future that’s cancer-free.