Liza Ray’s 38th birthday celebration this year was a grand affair. It was like she was reborn. Booming with life and new found joy, Liza Ray’s confidence knows no bounds as she has just conquered cancer and been given a new lease of life. In an exclusive interview with Sakhi the Canadian green-eyed beauty shares the experience of her battle against cancer.
I was born in Toronto to a Bengali Indian father and a Polish mother in 1972 on April 4. My original name is Liza Rani Ray. I competed my schooling as well as my post graduation in Canada. As my father is a Bengali, I often came to India with him. I sometimes spoke in Bengali with my father.
My modeling career: I had not thought ever that someday I would pursue modeling as a career. But it’s all about destiny. I would like to share a funny story here.
One fine day I went to Howrah Bridge with my father. Suddenly a stranger came to me and asked, “Do you want to do modeling?”
Being a teenager, I was surprised at the offer. When my father asked me whether I want to do or not, I said yes without any giving it a second thought. I took my first step in glamour world with an advertisement for Bombay Dyeing in which I was paired opposite actor Karan Kapoor. That advertisement managed to attract massive public attention. To be honest, at that time I was least interested in modeling. I wanted to be a journalist. But destiny had decided something else for me. Meanwhile, my mother had a severe car accident which derailed me from my path. After that my parents decided to part ways. After nearly one year of the accident, I returned to India and start modeling seriously. I appeared on the cover page of Gladrag magazine which gave me an identity in the world of show business.
My face-off with cancer: Coming to the toughest phase of my life. It was May 2009. That time I was in Canada. One day while doing something I suddenly felt as if darkness had engulfed me. I could not see anything. I thought that lack of sleep was the reason behind this. With the passage of time my problem increased as I started feeling low and tired. My general physician asked me to undergo different medical tests. When all the reports came he told me that I had multiple myeloma which means bone marrow cancer. When my father came to know the news, he hugged me and said, “Cancer is not an incurable disease. Don’t worry. I totally believe that you will be fine very soon.
The strength of belief: My dad strongly believed that I would be all right. He is the one who always gave installed fighting spirit in me. I started my treatment in the month of July. As I wanted to share my feelings and experiences with others I started to write blog. I used to collect lots of information on this disease from internet. My father was there for me all along. I used to play bingo with him in the hospital. I was 36-year-old then.
Luckily as the cancer got detected in the early phase, the treatment also started thereafter. I have always been optimistic. I had a strong will-power that I will soon overcome the existing problems. I was treated in Princess Margaret Hospital, Canada. Lying on bed I used to think why did the Almighty choose me for this suffering? But whatever it may be I controlled my emotions during the time and never let myself cry. Doctors started giving me chemotherapy from November. At that time, former Health and Planning Minister of Canada, Sydney Hockings, was also undergoing treatment at the same hospital. She bestowed her affection on me like a mother and always gave me the boost. But unfortunately she could not survive and her battle against cancer ended. This incident shook my inner strength. After this incident I lost my patience and fighting spirit. With the passage of time I somehow managed to console myself and again started my battle against this disease.
Chemotherapy and its side effects: With chemotherapy treatment, its side-effects were visible on me. I developed sleeping problem, felt irritation all over my body and used to get irritated over small things. Every morning I used to find the pillow full of my falledn hair. I started hating my face. During my illness I attended the premiere of my film ‘Cooking with Stella’ which was shown in an international film festival. The excessive dose of steroid medicines had kind of deformed my face. I used to look so ugly that no one present in the film festival was able to recognize me. I still remember that when my passport was being checked by officials in Mumbai international airport they asked me, “Are you really Liza Ray?” To prove my identity I had to show them all my visa documents.
Search for peace: I used to visit India with my father in between as my health started improving. I used to derive inner peace here. I learnt ‘Vipasana’ from a meditation centre at Dharamshala. I used to chant hymns of Gayatri mantra and Mahamrityunjay mantra. Besides naturopathy, I tried homeopathy and ayurvedic medicines. I had a cupboard full of medicines. I used to feel very weak after every blood transfusion. That is when dad took me to Kerala. I learnt yoga there. He also took me to Rishikesh where I used to sit on the bank of the rover Ganga for hours with him. That used to give me immense peace.
When Indian doctors started using life cell therapy on me, it proved magical. It is a unique process in which the menstrual blood of woman is stored in lab and later on her disease is cured using her own blood.
This process is very expensive. However, the credit goes to the president and executive director of Life Cell International Dr Mayur Abhaya.
After battling against cancer for more than two years I won. This is like my second birth and I am living life to the fullest now. I am also working for other cancer patients. For this, Life Cell has made its brand ambassador. I also want to pen down all my experiences. I have just started living my life.