Sonali Bendre: Bollywood star’s cancer posts inspires India fans
Bollywood actress Sonali Bendre has returned to India after undergoing treatment for an aggressive form of cancer in New York.
Social media users are full of praise for the 43-year-old actress, who has been candidly documenting her cancer journey for months.
The star’s husband Goldie Behl told local media that she was “recovering” but would need regular check-ups.
Some cancer patients have said the star’s openness has been “encouraging”.
Renuka Prasad, a breast cancer survivor who works at the Indian Cancer Society, told the BBC that seeing celebrities open up about “taboo topics” like cancer is a “welcome change”.
“Many patients don’t always get to hear stories about the individuals behind the disease, so when they see people like Sonali Bendre celebrating life, it’s very encouraging and motivating,” she said. “It shows them that cancer doesn’t have to be a death warrant – there is life after it and it can often be good.”
After her diagnosis, Bendre took to Instagram with a post in which she said she “was determined to fight” the cancer and thanked her family and friends. She added that her “high-grade cancer” had metastised.
Fans flocked to the comments section, wishing her the best for a speedy recovery.
In another touching post that resonated with fans, she also opened up about what it was like to break the news of her illness to her 12-year-old son.
“As much as we wanted to protect him, we knew it was important to tell him the full facts […] He took the news so maturely…and instantly became a source of strength and positivity for me,” she wrote on Instagram in July.
Her posts have garnered attention for capturing the various stages of living with the disease – a video montage about her decision to shave her head, a heartfelt note on having “bad days” and pushing through and some cheerful photos with close friends and family, among others.
Bendre is not the first Indian celebrity to speak out about cancer. Cricketer Yuvraj Singh, who was diagnosed in 2012, was also very outspoken about his battle with the disease and even wrote a book about it.
Actor Irrfan Khan, who announced that he was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour earlier this year in an open letter, was flooded with messages of support from fans.
There have been other attempts by Bollywood celebrities to bring neglected topics into the mainstream. Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone has openly talked about her struggle with depression – and has often highlighted the importance of treating mental health in various media interviews.
In 2015, she started a foundation to change the negative narrative and stigma around mental health in the country.
Many commended Padukone’s efforts since seeking medical help for psychological issues is still largely taboo in India. Mental illness is often equated with madness, and the country has a high suicide rate attributed to depression and anxiety.
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