Kirpal on what made her strong through cancer

Thursday 11 January 2024

Maggie's West London

I was 50 when I had breast cancer, 20 years ago. I was working as a childminder, a job I really loved and I was about to open my own nursery.

I went for breast screening, which found that I had cancer, right in the middle of my breast. It was stage 3, and so I needed my whole breast removed along with my lymph nodes, and I would need chemotherapy.

It was a shock to all of us when we heard the bad news. But it's how you react to it; you’ve got to have positivity to move it forward.

When family and friends would come and see me, they’d say things like “poor Kirpal, you've got cancer, you will die”. It made me feel terrible.

My daughter used to get upset with these comments and say that if they were going to come and see me, they had to speak to me positively.

Staying calm through surgery

I was scared of having a breast reconstruction because it was a twelve hour operation, but I told myself 'if I don't try, I'll never know, I've got to try'.

Twelve hours wasn't a joke for my family, sitting and worrying about me. But Maggie's really helped to look after them during the operation.

My family felt relaxed at Maggie’s, they had a cup of tea, read a book, prayed for a successful operation. I think if they had spent all that time in the hospital, they would have gone crazy with worry. Maggie’s feels totally different and is an escape from the hospital.

I was really pleased with the reconstruction as both breasts are both the same size, you can't tell the difference between them. I had an excellent surgeon that went the extra mile to look after me.

I want to tell as many people as possible about what I’ve been through, I’ve even held sessions in Qatar where my daughter lives, which have encouraged women to talk about their diagnosis and understand that cancer is not a death sentence.

Before and after treatment 

I was very scared before I had chemo because I really did not want to lose my hair. But Maggie's prepared me for losing my hair, bringing in wigs I could choose and a beautician who taught me about makeup.

At home, I used to feel depressed and even thought about committing suicide. Some people in our circle think that if you have cancer, you are going to die and this is what they would say to me. When they see me now, they are a little embarrassed and they're surprised to see me still around.

When I came to Maggie’s, it boosted me up. I felt that I could talk to somebody and get all my feelings out of my system, because they were other ladies there who all had the same thing, which meant a lot to me.

Maggie’s made me feel it's not the end of the world. We never feel rushed here and you can take your time.

We were helped with our finances and obtaining a blue badge; if we didn't understand something, the Benefits Advisor would let us take our time and explain it so nicely to us. Everyone was always there for me and I never felt anyone didn't have time for me.

Other people tried to make me scared but my bravery comes from Maggie's. Maggie's made me and my family strong through a very difficult time.

Why we fundraise

Nobody does anything for nothing for anybody. But Maggie's did. They never charged me a thing, so I felt I wanted to do something in return.

Both my husband and I are of the opinion that if you've got something, some knowledge in some form, we share it with others.

My mum used to say to me, if you give something to somebody, God will give you it back ten times more. That is how I feel. My life is full of blessings and I want others to have the same which is why I keep telling people about Maggie's.

I held an information session at my Gurdwara (Sikh temple). The ladies there really appreciated it because they didn't know anything about Maggie's. 

They were so appreciative, so inspired by my story, and so impressed that Maggie’s is here for everybody that they decided to raise money for Maggie’s. It's important to the Sikh community to help others in the community in this way.

We were happily surprised to find that we raised nearly £2000 in just one day! It made a big difference, because I could speak to them in their language as well. I speak lots of languages: English, Swahili, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Gujarati.

Over the years, I am proud that I have raised more than £3500 for Maggie's. 

I’ve even been on the radio to tell people that there is hope, cancer does not mean you are going to die and Maggie’s is here to help.

I am very grateful for all the support I got through my cancer journey. 

We’re here for you

Our cancer support specialists, psychologists and benefits advisors are here for everyone with cancer, and all the people who love them.

Come and see us at your nearest Maggie’s, call us on 0300 123 180 or email us at

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