Bollywood star’s cancer posts inspires India fans

Sonali BendreBollywood 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.”

When I first read about Sonali Bendre’s cancer in July, I immediately thought of her role in the Bollywood superhit Kal Ho Na Ho.

There, Bendre plays friend, confidant and doctor to the hero, played by superstar Shah Rukh Khan who is terminally ill.

The scenes in the film play out in New York city, where Bendre helps Khan deal with a weak heart that finally gives up in a finale, dissolved in tears of all leading and fringe actors.

Fifteen years after her guest appearance in the film, as Bendre made the transition from the reel-life doctor to the real-life patient, she was in New York city for the past few months, battling “high grade cancer”.

Khan, her co-star in a number of films, was among the Bollywood celebrities who visited her in hospital.

On Monday morning, India woke up to the happy news that Bendre had beaten cancer.

She arrived at Mumbai airport early in the morning, holding husband Goldie Behl’s hands, grinning happily.

It’s a fittingly happy ending.

Ms Prasad, who works with cancer patients, also added that “celebrities talking about such diseases is important because it bolsters awareness”.

In a Twitter post on Sunday, Bendre said “the fight is not yet over”, but that she was looking forward to being back home in Mumbai city.

Her husband Mr Behl told reporters that “the disease can come back” even though the treatment has ended.

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.

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