Meet Priya Bhargava, Miss India wheelchair 2015. A jubilant Priya, from Noida, shares her journey of the ‘win’ with Mums and stories.
Priya Bhargava led a normal life, could walk, run, dance or do anything that others did but a health condition at the age of 19, made her bound to wheel chair.
However that didn’t deter the young lady’s spirit and she proved it by winning Miss India wheelchair 2015 in a beauty pageant held in Bangalore last week.
“My childhood was as normal as that of any other normal kids and teenagers. I was always competitive and above average in my grades.
I used to participate in extracurricular activities, painting competitions, drove scooters and did everything that other growing children would do in life.
.I always dreamt of being a doctor, studied hard and gave the entrance examinations too. I I chose Bachelors in Physiotherapy and life was perfect. During that phase, I saw that over a period of time, I had started developing red rashes over my cheeks and nose. I thought it was perhaps the result of severe sunburn and to my misfortune the dermatologists too I consulted, said the same.
I was given some medications to try and I did so for sometime.
But gradually I started feeling weak and had fever on regular basis. I went to the doctors, got some tests done and thought it could be typhoid, though all tests were negative.
After numerous treatments for many other ailments including malaria, having heavy doses of paracetomol administered in my routine, finally a doctor who had perhaps seen something similar in his cases said, “Your daughter has been diagnosed with an incurable autoimmune disease called ‘Systemic Lupus Erythematosus’ and there is no treatment of it in the medical science so far.
We can only manage the condition. Henceforth she has to undergo regular checkups for all vital organs through blood tests etc. This disease can damage any of them and to keep it under control; she will have to take some strong medicines which have side effects too.” He also instructed that this disease can only be monitored by a rheumatologist or by an immunologist.
So my doctor visits became even more frequent. I was a medical student and had read all about it in my pathology text book. I had accepted my condition and even used to discuss about the progression of my disease and medicines with my doctors. But it was not that easy as I was thinking.
I was on steroids which had side effects so the rheumatologist put me on chemotherapy drug (methotraxate) that caused loss of my hair, making me look bald.
I was just 19 at that time. Yet I continued going to college putting black marker paint over balded area or sometimes covering my head with a scarf or a cap.
Slowly I started feeling weak. I felt I was losing my battle somewhere because handling all these things was not easy.
I had to miss my lectures and practical classes due to frequent visits to the hospital. I became bedridden and had to discontinue my Physio therapy course too. I was bedridden for 18 months. Soon I got into severe medical complications where I was given doses of immunosuppressive injections called cyclophosphomide, due to which I recovered partially and was able to sit and stand with support. But the side effect of these medicines was that I caught skin infections over my arm and right thigh. Gradually the complications led to discontinuation of my studies in my Nutrition course as well. T
he infections were so severe that the surgeon over there referred me to Army Hospital Referral and Research to save my leg from amputation.
By this time my dad had got the posting of Delhi to facilitate my treatment and thus our whole family moved to Delhi. I was admitted to the Army Hospital R&R for 3 months, underwent went 4-5 surgeries for debridement and skin grafting.
Doctors tried stem cell transplant too on me in 2003 and then in 2009 but could not succeed in doing so. Thus since 2002 on wards, I am on wheelchair.
My mum and my family members, including my dad and sister Prachi Pathak have stood by me right throughout the ordeal and they are very happy for me today.Unfortunately I lost some of my friends who didn’t want to be with me through the hard times.
My mum in particular has been a really strong support for me. There was a time when only me and my mum were there together as my dad and sister had other commitments. I was bedridden and she would do everything for me.Recently it so happened that a true FB acquaintance of mine, Professor Prabhat Ranjan, Executive Director TIFAC, who works for disabled tried hard to convince me that I can win and thus I applied for the pageant. And thankfully I did apply to participate in this contest.
He had also asked me to participate in 2014 also but since I was engrossed in the exams of MCA, I missed the date.
This time I was interviewed by the founder, Mr Sounak Banerjee, he found me fit for the contest. I prepared myself extensively for the pageant. I took help of earlier videos, watching Miss India, Miss Universe and read magazines and books to update my knowledge, style quotient and more.
This was the third time, the contest was organized and the selection was done by a committee of 15 judges who chose the contestants based on several factors.
So it was similar to how the contests are held in larger scale and we were graded based on our outfits, confidence, body language and our capability to answer questions.”
Priya Bhargava mentions her parents; Gayatri Bhargava and Suresh Chandra Bhargava helped her immensely to complete her education by giving all the support they could. And she has topped in the regional centre in BCA and later in her Masters.
Priya herself who has battled depression earlier, has a word of advice for those who are disabled by birth or due to unforeseen circumstances later in life. She stresses that they shouldn’t give up and try to complete their education. She feels better education can pave path in making their career prospects better.
Priya loves indulging in many creative pursuits including painting and poetry. She hopes to crack the UPSC exam too.
This is a girl with many dreams and is trying her best to fulfill them. One of them include to get featured as the cover girl of a reputed fashion magazine.
Mums and stories hopes so that the magazine editors take note of this young woman for her spirit, beauty and confidence that she so beautifully sets as an example.