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Eight years ago Swarna Mallawarachchi found a lump in her armpit but chose to ignore it. Mostly she says, since she was in denial. She also didn’t want to see a repeat of the traumatic experience her daughter went through in 2002 because of her; when she underwent brain surgery. “I’ve already had a brush with a serious illness. I experienced firsthand, the agony of seeing how it affected my daughter, who had just completed high school & the toll it took, on those who were closest to me. I made a complete recovery after surgery & was back to normal. So I didn’t pay a lot of attention to, what I now know to be ‘warning signs’ of Breast cancer. I am lucky to be alive today. Considering that I went to the doctor only after the lump burst, which was eight years later.”

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“The day the lump burst I contacted a close friend of mine; Selena Samarawickreme, who immediately took me to a doctor. After the biopsy was done it was confirmed as cancer. Upon hearing this, my daughter Narendra, who now works & resides in London booked her ticket within half an hour & was on the next flight home.” She spent the next three months nursing me back to health along with Dharmasiri. “Without them I wouldn’t have made it. They gave me the courage, strength & will to overcome the trauma of the illness.”

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Hearing the news, from actress turned politician Malini Fonseka, President Mahinda Rajapaksa made a personal call to Swarna. “I was extremely grateful, for our Honourable president’ words of encouragement. On his instruction, additional Secretary Mrs. Athrugiriya took action to support me through the President Office Fund. I’m grateful & amazed at the response & kindness everyone showed towards me.”

Swarna underwent a mastectomy & breast reconstructive surgery at Lanka Hospitals. The surgery was performed under the capable team of Oncologist Dr. Mahendra Perera, Dr. Naomal Perera, Dr. Manori Gunawardena & Dr. Nishani Perera. They removed her right breast along with the muscle connecting her upper arm to her chest.  When doctors told her the cancer had not metastasized, she called it ‘a miracle.’ “I believe in God & it is this belief that sees me through my challenges & gives me strength during hard times. It’s amazing how wonderful, people have been to me during this trying time.” Friends from the film fraternity like Nilendra Deshpriya, Malini Fonseka, Anoja, Chandran Ratnam, Aleric Lionel Fernando, Nadeeka & other film personalities hastened to the actresses’ side when they heard the news. They still continue to support her.

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(Cont. in US Lanka magazine)

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