COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Statistics show one in eight women will get diagnosed with breast cancer during her life and as a local breast cancer surgeon, Deepa Halaharvi never dreamed she would become a part of that statistic.
Now a survivor, Halaharvi aims to inspire her patients through her story of perseverance.
“My plan was to become a doctor since I was 5 years old, so I always wanted to be a doctor,” said Halaharvi.
It was a journey that started when her family immigrated to the United States from India when she was just 16 years old.
“As immigrants, you know there’s always, my dad always pushed us to work hard, be great at whatever you do, be honest and you’ll be successful in life as long as you’re the best at whatever you do,” she said.
Just as she was getting ready to apply to medical school, her father suffered a stroke, so she put her plans on hold to take care of him.
“So, that taught me about life I think, that’s when it all started,” she said.
She eventually went to medical school in Kansas City before moving with her husband and two children to Columbus in 2008. During her general surgery residency at OhioHealth, she met a young lady in her 30s who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.
“She had two little kids like my kids and I really connected with her and she said you should be a breast surgeon, you’re so good with relationships and connecting with patients,” said Halaharvi.
Halaharvi became a breast surgeon in 2014 and around the same time, her father passed away.
And just eight months into treating her own breast cancer patients Halaharvi discovered she was diagnosed with the disease.
“I have no idea why I cry every single time I talk about this, but, so who is better to get breast cancer than a breast cancer surgeon?” said Halaharvi.
Halaharvi has now started a podcast and creates unique TikTok and Instagram videos to try and remain positive for her patients as they fight the disease.
“My hope with this podcast is not just to educate and empower people, but also to know that it’s not the end of the world, that cancer does not take away who you are as a person, it still provides hope,” said Halaharvi.
As she honors her father in her daily goal to be the best breast cancer surgeon, Halaharvi says she was completely surprised by her NBC4 Remarkable Woman nomination.
“It was truly unbelievable, it was very humbling, and you know I honestly don’t look at myself and say wow I’m doing all these great things, I’m not, I’m just doing a job just like anybody else,” said Halaharvi.
But she believes she’s simply been called to not only help breast cancer patients become survivors but empower them to become thrivers and warriors.
“To who much is given much is expected, I’ve always believed in that, I’m just incredibly blessed with the things I’m able to do,” she said.