NEW DELHI: Indo-Canadian actress Lisa Ray, who likes to call herself a cancer "graduate" after surviving the disease, never feared over her looks after chemotherapy sessions. She says her appearance is not a source of insecurity for her.
"When you are fighting for your life, everything comes second. And then when you are better, you realise how much energy and time we waste in life thinking about insignificant things. My appearance is not a source of insecurity. I have shaved my head for 'Water' and I appeared on the cover of a magazine bald. It's not a big deal," Lisa told IANS in an e-mail interview from Mumbai.
In 2009, Lisa was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells known as plasma cells, which produce antibodies. A year later, she announced that she was cancer-free, after a stem cell transplant. As multiple myeloma is an incurable disease, she is not completely cured of the disease.
On being looked at as an inspiration for the youth, Lisa said: "So many people supported me when I went through cancer, prayed and sent me messages. The least I can do is pay it forward. It is so important to speak openly about cancer and reduce the fear factor. I am humbled and hope I can continue to serve in some small way."
Lisa has also been involved in drawing people's attention towards girl child rights around the world, apart from initiating a number of fundraisers and campaigns for multiple myeloma. She feels women cancer patients are stigmatised in certain sections of the society.
"But that begins with women themselves. We have a lot of work to do to change attitudes towards both cancer patients and women. I've been to several Ficci awareness events and there are organisations that belong to support female cancer patients. But more work is needed," said Lisa.
The actress made a comeback in Hindi filmdom in 2016 with "Ishq Forever". She was later seen in films like "Veerappan" and "Dobaraa".
An ambassador for watch brand Rado, Lisa is enjoying the films coming her way.
"I have A.R. Rahman's film and an Amazon series coming up for release. I'm very lucky to get to work in only projects that interest me. There is no compromise. And I have a family life... I'm finally finishing my book and I give time to cancer awareness," Lisa said.
Asked what's next for her, she said: "There's some cool releases coming up but I'm also busy with my book, my family and life!"
The "Bollywood Hollywood" actress said she started her career at the young age of 16. Now at 46, she wants to prioritise her health and balance her life.
"Work is great but I hope you know by now I do other things besides acting."