Meet Navi Indran Pillai: The Brave Face Of Surviving Cancer

navi indran pillai 4

28-year-old Vaishnavi Indran Pillai popularly known as Navi is a brave cancer survivor inspiring millions of women worldwide to fight the deadly disease. She is of Indian origin and currently settled in Shah Alam, Malaysia. Navi is a fashion model and an avid Instagrammer having a fan following of 11K. She proudly says “I have cancer, but it’s not the end of the world. I’m fighting for my life, but I’m going to live my life to the fullest,”

Navi Indran Pillai has undergone chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer that later spread to her liver and backbone. She has successfully completed her six courses all of which were ‘no fun at all’. The severe side effects of chemo can be anything like mood swings, laziness, hair loss but Navi has tackled all of these like a pro! By posting her journey from being a patient to being completely free from it on Instagram, Navi wants to encourage people, especially women, going through this fatal disease.

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Her Instagram feed shows her story as a brave survivor of cancer. It has all the moments when she felt weak emotionally or physically due to the ongoing treatment but eventually came out as the winner due to her indomitable spirit and love for life. It shows her struggle to fight against the deadly disease. She proudly uses the hashtag #kissedbycancer, to show that she has beaten the disease.

“I’m grateful for my cancer. It has taught me to appreciate life and not take anything for granted. Whether we are sick or not, everyone has a limited time, and I hope my story inspires other young people to live their lives and do what makes them happy,”

Navi Indran Pillai

Navi was first diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in 2013 when she was just 22-year-old graduate wishing to live her life to the fullest. But she caught a fatal disease that she did not know anything about.

Navi says, “You always think cancer is something that happens to older people, but the disease doesn’t discriminate,” “I didn’t know what cancer meant. Was I going to die? Could I just take the medicines and get back to life? I just wanted to get treated and get on with my life. I wanted to live a normal life like my friends.”

Facebook/Navi Indran Pillai

Navi Indran had to postpone her dreams for the career as she underwent numerous therapies to fight cancer in coming months like lumpectomy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, Herceptin and hormone therapy. No doubt, all this took a toll on her emotional and physical well being. Her family and friends gave her their full support but she found it difficult to cope with this tough time in life.

“I was lost, and went through a period of depression. But somehow I found the strength to fight. I think in our darkest moments, we find that inner strength that is within us,”


Navi was finally declared cancer-free by doctors in 201. She left for Australia, to pursue a PG in Programme Management. She enjoyed her life. She completed her graduation in 2017 and secured a job she which she loved. She had good friends in the city. She went for an annual checkup during a holiday in Malaysia in July 2017 which showed cancer had returned; this time in her liver and back!

The news hit her like a tonne of bricks. It hit her even harder this time. She was really disappointed. She had gone through all the treatments. She was eating healthy food and walking a lot, breathing in the clean air in Melbourne. Navi had just built her life up again and it felt like another bomb had dropped. She wondered, ‘why did it come back?’ She started to blame herself. ‘What did I do wrong?’ She cried a lot.

But she mustered up the dare and decided to stop feeling sad and sorry for herself. She determined to take her life in her hands and also to help others going through a similar phase in life.

Facebook/Navi Indran Pillai

Navi Indran Pillai started sharing her journey on Instagram and has more than 11,000 followers. Her followers are touched by her inspiring story and her positive attitude towards cancer.

She says, “Maybe this was my purpose. I have always wanted to do something to help others, and this was my opportunity. You don’t really understand what it’s like unless you’ve been through it. I can be that support for others. I was going to look at this positively and support others,” I started this to support others, but honestly the support I have received by people through social media has been amazing. The encouragement from people as I go through this has helped me stay positive,” “As much as I am determined to smile through this, it isn’t easy. There are days when I am really down, and I want others who are going through this to know that it isn’t going to be easy. You can’t be strong overnight, but with support you can grow strong.”

One of the biggest setbacks given by cancer to a woman is losing hair. It was hard to accept for Navi as well. She is still coming to terms with it, but putting it out on Instagram has helped her deal with it. She posts pictures of her bald head on social media to inspire women like herself.

Navi loves Indian classical dance and wants to pursue her passion for it.

Navi is helping cancer survivors feel ‘normal’ by talking openly about her journey. She feels, ‘often, people don’t want to talk about their cancer because they feel self-conscious. They don’t talk about their depression because society expects you to just snap out of it.’ But Navi feels these feelings are real, and she wants to be that support for all those who need it.

Navi Indran Pillai has dreams of traveling the world, pursuing her love for Indian classical dance, and helping even more people to support cancer survivors. She wants to raise funds and support people emotionally, physically and financially going through the same phase. Navi is definitely the face of brave cancer survivors who don’t let cancer take away their happiness and purpose of life.

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1 Comment

  • Deborah Kos 4 years ago Reply

    Wow, Navi is a brave wonderful woman battling cancer. I love her strength and willingness to live her life to the fullest.

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