Natasha Verma is a jack-of-all-trades.
The transplant from Texas has ingratiated herself in the city of Boston and has become a staple on NBC10 Boston, where she serves as a news anchor.
Before shipping up to Boston in June of 2016, Verma honed her craft at News 12 Bronx in New York City as well as WBBH in Fort Myers, Fla.
Verma has a host of impressive accolades. She is the youngest ever graduate at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Pre-Med and Broadcast Journalism at 17-years-old. Verma then went on to receive a Master’s degree in journalism at the prestigious Ivy League Columbia University at 18.
If that wasn’t enough, Verma also wrote and directed “Hardy” a film about boxer Heather Hardy and the trials and tribulations she had to endure to eventually be crowned the WBC International Female Super Bantamweight title.
Verma’s desire for success is not just strived individually. She credits her parents for instilling this level of confidence which led to a host of achievements.
“It’s a combination of both. My parents instilled in me a curiosity to learn and to never settle,” Verma told BostonManMagazine in an exclusive interview.“There was nothing that I couldn’t do. Everything was achievable. With such a powerful mindset as a little girl, I was very determined from the get go. I often thought, ‘Why not me?’ In junior high, I took the 8th grade final exam and tested out so I skipped straight to high school. Freshman year, I took the college entrance exam and scored in the highest bracket so I started to take college classes while still in high school. I was personally driven but none of what I have accomplished would be possible without the support of my mom and dad. I’m truly lucky.”
While the steps Verma took to get where she is today is certainly impressive, it is not her greatest accomplishment.
In August of 2016, Verma’s life took a drastic turn to say the least.
She felt a sharp pain on the left side of her shoulder and discovered a lump. When she described her symptoms to a doctor, the physician initially did not see any cause for concern. After convincing medical personnel that an ultrasound was necessary, a thorough look into the issue turned out to be a devastating harsh truth for Verma; she was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“At first I thought ‘I knew it!’ My intuition told me something was wrong,” Verma explained. “Then I thought, ‘Am I going to lose my hair?’ The answer was of course yes, but I was in denial. I’m the kind of person who sees an obstacle as a challenge. I viewed cancer like a mission and I had one job: to beat it. At the time of my diagnosis, I was still on TV. I decided to take a leave and focus on treatment. I wanted to give 100-percent (effort)and I’m grateful for NBC for being so accommodating and understanding. I was very private about my disease. I went quiet on social media. I didn’t want unsolicited theories on why people thought I got cancer. I didn’t feel comfortable sharing updates as my treatment was constantly changing.”
My white blood cell count was zeroso I was extremely vulnerable to any germs so I mostly stayed indoors and wore a face maskif I needed to leave the house,” Verma continued.“I was on pain medications around the clock. I felt betrayed by my body every single day. It was as though my mind and will to live was strong but my body just couldn’t seem to get it together. It was a difficult time, and there’s no way I could have operated without my family.”
Speaking of family, Natasha has had quite the support system to help her deal with the ordeal of tackling a cancer diagnosis head-on. Her parents, Dr. Omesh Verma and Shama Verma, serve as co-founders of the Verma Foundation, which was established in 2013. Natasha’s siblings Manisha and Akshay are also on the board, along with WBZ News reporter Gary Brode.
“If you know me, then you know family comes number one,” Verma said.“We are a tight knit group. We love, we laugh, we fight, we share, we do all things as a family. My mom and dad founded the Verma Foundation in 2013. My mom was equally instrumental in launching the ‘Put A Cap On Cancer’ initiative. She is in charge of all manufacturing, packaging and distribution across the USA, Europe and Asia. My brother and sister are directors and play a huge role in brainstorming new ways on how we can continue spreading our mission.”
After my second chemotherapy treatment, my hair started to come out in chunks painlessly. It was traumatizing,” Verma described.“Up until then, I had accepted my fate but when my hair fell out, it hit me. Cancer was killing me. It put my situation into perspective and what was physical pain from the chemo drugs quickly became emotional. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. My eyebrows, eyelashes, and hair were all gone. My skin was ghastly pale with dark bags under my eyes. On days I felt good and the effects of the drugs were wearing off, I’d look in the mirror and immediately felt sick. I had a difficult time finding a wig that I liked. All the wigs were stuffy, synthetic and the hair line looked fake. Worst of all, the company that sold me my first wig threw a blonde one on my head and said, ‘You look great! Be a blonde!’
“I wasn’t trying to change my identity. I just wanted to look normal,” Verma added.“After watching endless YouTube tutorials on laying a hair line, I finally gave up and threw a baseball cap on top of my wig. It was perfect! Towards the end of my treatment, I worked with my mom to design a cap wig which is 100% human hair attached to the brim of a baseball cap and (thus)the project was born. Through our 501(c)(3) non-profit, the Verma Foundation, we make and give cap wigs to women and children battling cancer -completely free of cost.
We partnered with the New England Patriots, Boston Bruins and Dallas Cowboys to provide athletic cap wigs. The best part is that every aspect of the cap wig is (personally customized)to the patient. The cap material, cap color, hair color and hair length is all (chosen by the patient). We use 100% human hair that can be washed and styled for an easy-to-go fashion. We launched in 2018 and since then we have given more than 500 cap wigs to patients across the country. We started shipping to Singapore last month.”
The Verma Foundation will be hosting its second annual CAPWALK Boston Fashion Show at City Winery in Boston on September 9. All of the models participating in the walk down the aisle are women who are currently battling cancer in the Boston-area and are escorted by the likes of local athletes and celebrities.
“They’ll be sporting our cap wigs paired with the latest fashion by Lord & Taylor. Our youngest model is just three-years-old. Her name is Paisley, and she’s currently battling leukemia in Boston,” Verma said. “A week after she was diagnosed, her father died. It was a very heartbreaking time for her family. Her mom says she was obsessed with her hair and styling every day. She wouldn’t leave the house without a hair bow (her request) so the hair loss was difficult. Her mom reached out to us for a cap wig and since she’s received it, she’s felt like herself and actually refers to it as her princess wig! She is so cute, and we are excited to have her as a little model. You’ll hear Paisley’s and so many other stories of impact from women who say the cap wig changed their life during treatment. Just by attending the event, you’re making a difference. One hundred percent of the money goes back to our foundation so we can continue making and giving cap wigs to cancer patients.”
For those interested in attending the event or to learn more information, please visitvermafoundation.org/capwalkboston.