Anupama Surapaneni

coffee date #22 with anupama surapaneni

cancer survivor!!!, queen of Dumb Charades, maker of the best chicken curry, constant laugher, pro Catan player, movie enthusiast

me: ginger tea | anu pedamma: nescafe coffee
location: anupama surapaneni’s home, new jersey

Anu Pedamma is a gem of a human with a gem of a personality. She is a little sunshine packed into human form. I’ve never once seen her without a wide, bright-eyed smile across her face.

Anu Pedamma is more famously known for her unique laugh. She’s always THAT person at the parties who is laughing for no reason, but will somehow manage to make everyone around her follow along.

She was the aunty who gave me the ‘The Talk’ before I moved into college this year. 😂 She started with a straight face as she explained to me “Esha, you have to be so extremely careful in college because boys may and can take advantage of you” and ended with all of us bursting into laughter. This is the best thing about Anu Pedamma – she has so much spirit and is always someone who will leave you with a smile across your face after you’re done interacting with her.


  • The mere fact that you’re alive is a blessing.

The thing about living is we don’t really appreciate it until the time comes when we’re on the verge of death. We wait until a life-changing moment to realize that the mere act of living is an incredible blessing.

Anu Pedamma described the way in which her perspective changed before and after her chemotherapy.

“Now I know what life means. Life means life. You’re breathing. You’re alive. And that’s it.” – Anupama Surapaneni, 2021

Before chemo, Anu Pedamma said that she did have a materialistic mindset and always found happiness in external things (like almost every single one of us right now). She also had the habit of being quick to scold her children or projecting her anger onto other people.

After chemo, however, everything changed. She now finds happiness in the simple things – her breath, her morning cup of water, her peaceful walks, etc. Anu Pedamma has also developed an immense amount of compassion to the point where she no longer feels the need to scold her children if, for example, they tell her they missed a deadline for their job. She realized that everything that happens to us – bad grades, breakups, arguments, job losses, etc. – are all so minuscule in the large-scale of life.

“I encourage them. I don’t think that’s the end of the world now.” – Anupama Surapaneni, 2021

  • Having a healthy childhood is the key to having a healthy adulthood.

I had to ask one of the happiest people I know if she truly was happy when she was out in public or if that was a front that she put up and was simply faking it.

Anu Pedamma said that she truly was happy in moments like those and when I asked how she can be like that all the time, she literally said “that’s just how I’ve always been.”

This then signaled me to ask her about her childhood because, as I said before, the way we are as adults is directly linked to the way we were raised and the type of environment we were raised in.

Anu Pedamma described her incredible relationship with her mother, father, and sister. She talked about how immensely hardworking her mother was and how soft-spoken and kind-spirited her father was. She remembered always being a happy child and we can clearly see that that has now translated into her adulthood.

  • There’s a difference between having a fight vs. having an argument.

Imagine not having a single argument with your spouse until after years and years of marriage. When Anu Pedamma told me that her first disagreement with her husband occurred only after her oldest son came into high school, I was in shock.

According to Anu Pedamma, a fight is the use of abusive language and saying things with the intent of purposely hurting the other person. An argument, on the other hand, is speaking your own truth in a way that is not trying to bring the other person down. It’s healthy communication.

The secret to having healthy marriages is being able to know the distinction between these two types of communications. There will always be disagreements in a marriage, but knowing that we have the option of arguing (healthily) rather than fighting (non healthily) will create a stronger bond.

  • Don’t burn bridges.

The major difference that I noticed between Anu Pedamma’s generation and mine is in how we deal with toxic relationships. Anu Pedamma’s generation will never ever break off a relationship, especially if they are family, no matter how badly they dislike that person. My generation, however, will easily cut off that person from our lives because I don’t think we have the tolerance to deal with such toxicity.

I can’t really choose which method is better because they both have their own cons. Not cutting off toxic relationships causes the older generation to cling onto the toxicity and thus, they will continue to be affected by those people. On the other hand, cutting off relationships will cause the younger generation to possibly be left with no one.

It’s a tricky situation, so I guess the only way to move forward is to assess what is best for you.

  • Do not react when you are not in the right mindset.

When we’re in a heated argument or a ‘flight-or-fight’ type of situation, oftentimes we just start spitting out words out of anger or fear. We don’t really think before we speak/act in moments like those.

“Our brains do not work when we are scared.” – Anupama Surapaneni, 2021

In my opinion, the key to passing through these kind of moments is finding a moment of stillness. Stillness is the key to any sort of mental turmoil we go through.

Allowing ourselves to sit still, close our eyes, and ponder on the situation and how we’re feeling will give us some sort of clarity. It most definitely will not immediately solve the problem, but it will give our brain a chance to unwind so that we have the ability to at least think more clearly.

  • Do not get stuck in your comfort zone.

The one thing that Anu Pedamma regrets is remaining comfortable in her comfort zone during her professional career. She regrets not throwing herself out there a tiny bit more as that could have took her career in a different direction.

It’s easier said than done to take that step to push yourself and catapult into the unknown. However, more often than not, we learn so much more from catapulting and possibly failing than not even trying to do something unfamiliar.

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