An amazing childhood, a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, MBA in IT Business Management from the well-known Symbiosis Institute, a Masters in Information Systems from the USA, a cheerful marriage, an excellent house and an average occupation in the United States. An impeccable life that a considerable lot of us long for, would it say it isn’t?
Meenal Chaudhary (Meenal Gupta) hails from Nagpur and is a Data Scientist in Atlanta, Georgia. She was leading a perfect life until one fine day cancer hit to her in the year 2012 when she was just 28-years-old then.
Meenal said, “Why me? Was the first question that I could think of! I had never heard of a person getting cancer at the age of 28. I went into depression thinking of all the things that I might have done wrong to get this disease.”
In the month of February and year 2012, Meenal went for a routine check-up where the doctors found a suspicious lump in her throat. A biopsy was done and it was confirmed that the lump was thyroid cancer. The doctors advised Meenal to get a surgery within a week.
Meenal’s thyroid was removed in a surgery that lasted for more than three hours. She was informed that she should plan a family sooner rather than later, as a late pregnancy could cause complications for her.
Meenal recalls and says, “Thyroid plays a major role in a woman’s body, especially in pregnancy. I could barely come out of the shock of having cancer for months, when I had to decide on planning pregnancy as per the doctor’s advice.”
Pregnancy came with its challenges. Meenal had to bear the side-effects of not having a Thyroid.
Meenal said, “I was puking blood every single day. My throat hurt badly. My body was becoming weak with each passing day, and my mind was pushing me towards darker feelings.”
Meenal’s husband, Sumedh, stood by her side during her painful and hard days and finally their son, Ryan, was born in the month of May 2013.
Her parents visited her from India to help her get better and also brought several vegetable seeds.
Meenal said, “My mother always had a flair for farming as my grandfathers and uncles on both sides of the family are farmers. I have seen my mother grow vegetables throughout my childhood and here she was to pass on the legacy to me.”
At first, Meenal had minimal measure important to care for the garden in the lawn, in the midst of office work, tyke care and housework. However, the principal vegetable from her terrace changed something inside her. When she saw the plants prove to be fruitful, her grin proceeded for a long time.
Meenal said, “Every single vegetable that grew in my backyard gave me a sense of accomplishment. I felt like I had something to look forward to at the end of a tiring day. Moreover, eating fresh, home-grown vegetables made a difference to my health too, both physically and mentally.”
In August 2015, Meenal went for a short vacation but when she came back her plants were dead. This left her so disappointed that she could not gather the courage to rebuild the backyard into the same old beautiful garden again.
On her son Ryan’s third birthday in May 2016, Meenal thought of giving out plants as return gifts to the kids, so that they could learn gardening.
Meenal said, “My son was super excited about this, and so initially I just got a few radish seeds and planted them. And they grew so well, that we would have mooli-parathas every weekend.”
Today, she grows 16 types of vegetables in her garden vegetable bed.
Meenal grew vegetables like radish, carrots, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, capsicum, okra, jalapeno, strawberry, snake gourd, bitter gourd, mint, cilantro, basil, spinach, rosemary and chillies in her backyard. Looking at her garden, many of her neighbours learnt gardening from her and are growing their vegetables.