Navi Indran Pillai is in remission from stave IV breast cancer, and she recently released a series of images on her Instagram page to inspire and empower other cancer survivors to not let cancer control their lives.
Titled “Bold Indian Bride,” the series shows her dressed in a vibrant red saree with intricate henna designs on her hands and feet, gorgeous accessories, and an elegant white veil. They were captioned with explanations about the photo series and words of encouragement, like, “There will be haters and doubters and then there will be you proving them wrong.”
The photos were captured by photographer Celes Gerard.
Navi was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer in 2013, at the young age of 22. She had just graduated from university, and the news stunned her. She put her career plans on hold as she went through a lumpectomy, then chemotherapy, radiation, herceptin, and hormone therapy.
By 2015, Navi’s cancer had been eliminated. She moved to Australia, got her master’s degree, and then began her career. But during the summer of 2018, an annual check-up showed her cancer had returned but in different spots: her liver and her backbone. She was stage IV.
In December of 2018, she beat the cancer back again.
Cancer didn’t break her spirit. But it did make her realize how the disease could ruin or postpone the dreams women have about their future, and she wanted to inspire other women to not let cancer control their lives; she wanted them to know that they are bold and beautiful. She wanted to destroy the stereotypes of what a bride could be.
This is what she had to say about the series on Instagram:
“Cancer treatments has given us alot of limitations, has robbed us from beauty and taken away our confidence. As a little girl, we have always dreamt of what our big day will be like and how we would look as a bride. But having cancer has stripped some of us from fulfilling these dreams. Alot of cancer survivors has postponed or even cancelled their big day.
“For me, as a cancer survivor, I dreamt the day I marry the love of my life. Dreamt, what it is like to look like a bride, to feel like a bride. Having gone through cancer treatments (chemotherapy, etc.), losing my hair was by far the hardest thing I ever had to go through. I felt that I was not beautiful enough to be loved and was not beautiful enough to look or ever feel like a bride. Hair, it is our ‘crowning glory’ and having that taken away from you is devastating. But we choose to accept what we have, appreciate what we are and welcome what is coming.
“So here it is, Bold Indian Bride.”
C. Dixon likes to read, sing, eat, drink, write, and other verbs. She enjoys cavorting around the country to visit loved ones and experience new places, but especially likes to be at home with her husband, son, and dog.