Biswajeet Mahato(Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma): Hope is like the sun, which as we journey toward it casts the shadow of our burden behind us. Stay motivated.

Detection/ Diagnosis:

My father always used to feel feverish though the thermometer was unable to detect the temperature of his body. Gradually we observed that he is getting a high fever for a continuous period. After consulting with various doctors, we found out that he has cancer as well as Tuberculosis(TB). My father was 69 when the diagnosis happened. In December 2020, we discovered that he has stage 4 Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). This cancer starts in the lymphatic system where the body produces too many abnormal lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.

Journey:

In the beginning, my father used to get a fever regularly. He used to feel feverish but the thermometer was not able to detect any temperature. We decided to visit the doctor. At first normal antibiotics were given to prevent the fever as there was no sign of high fever. Only normal weakness and internal shivering were the symptoms.

After a month of treatment, we started noticing symptoms of high fever. We told the physician about the situation. He was getting a temperature. He gave me medicine for high fever and weakness. After this, he suggested various types of tests. As the days were passing by, the temperature kept on increasing. After noticing the case, we consulted another doctor. That was the time we come to know the real diagnosis. We asked the doctor why the fever was not going away and why it keeps on coming back. We had so many questions. The doctor went through every report and examined it. He then stated that my father should have a biopsy for the conclusion. Biopsy results revealed Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. 

We then moved to a hospital in Kolkata. There the doctors again did the testing and retested the earlier finding of cancer. They revealed that my father is in stage 4 and the variant is very aggressive (B Variant). We discussed the case with the doctors there, asked them what are the possible chances of survival, and what can be done from now onwards. He mentioned that since we are in the 4th stage of cancer with a ‘B’ variant it is not easy to say 100% chances of survival but they can give their best. They also suggested going for a second opinion. They told us to decide as they were not 100% sure of the survival chances. We began to have second thoughts after we met the doctors. We were also given brief detail about the spread of cancer through the whole body. We decided to go through the chemotherapy sessions. Doctors mentioned if we go for chemotherapy treatment there will be side effects. Since cancer has spread through the whole body, a bone marrow transplant was not possible. We took the chance of going through chemotherapy. 

The 1st chemo cycle went well. He was given antibiotics before. There were a total of 6 chemo cycles that were to be performed. Each session was to be taken every 22 days. There were side effects of chemotherapy treatment like hair loss, and weakness. We did not mention cancer to our father even once. He knew that he is being treated and the situation is serious. He did not know that cancer is causing all the problems. After the chemo cycle, he did not have any temperature. We were happy as it was a positive sign. In between, we noticed that the WBC’s were going down. We informed the doctor about the same. He said that it will vary because of the treatment. The second chemo went well like the 1st one with the same dullness. The doctor recommended intaking a protein diet to get rid of the weakness. My father had mood swings during the journey. He was not getting any taste from the food due to the chemotherapy effects. Somehow all these things were taken care of. 

Before the 3rd chemo, we observed high fever, indigestion, and diarrhea. The doctor gave medicines as per the situation. We asked the doctor if we could travel to our native place as papa was feeling bored at the same place and we did. My father started feeling feverish and we informed the doctor. He prescribed some medicines for the same. At the end of the 3rd cycle, the doctor told us to get some scans. After seeing the reports, doctors said the spread has reduced. It was a good sign. Doctors observed dark spots in the liver. They did the tests again. Biopsy results were negative and they were unable to find out the reason behind the dark spots. Doctors said he is having Tuberculosis(TB) and they gave him the drugs for TB. It was hard for us to digest the news. The temperature kept on rising and stopped only when the drugs were given. After the medicine effects were over, the temperature rose. We saw too much dullness and health downfall. As my father was only getting the antibiotic treatment we asked the doctor if we could take him home and give the antibiotic home. The doctors agreed.

We took dad home and noticed that the antibiotics were not working. They were useless. We again shifted him back to the hospital. The doctor said he is having some breathing issues. They moved my dad to a ventilator. We agreed but we questioned the doctor about how the situation went out of control after prescribing the right drugs. The doctors had no answer. They kept on saying we are doing everything we can. 

At that moment we were not able to do anything, we could not rush to another hospital. Even if we would have rushed, that will be waste of time as they will do the testing again and the results will take a lot of time and we were not in a situation to risk anymore. The pandemic has also started. Because of all these issues, we agreed on keeping our father on ventilation. In 24 hours he passed away. In the whole journey, he didn’t know that he was suffering from cancer. We never disclosed the term cancer in front of him. 

Thoughts about side treatment:

Some of our friends and family members had the belief that we should have gone for Ayurvedic treatment. we thought of going for Ayurveda treatment after the 3rd cycle of chemotherapy but we did not get the chance as my father already passed away. 

Revealing the news:

Everyone in our family was aware that my father was getting treated. when the doctor informed us that they have to shift him to the ventilator, we understood that now the situation has become very serious. Therefore, we called everyone and apprised them that the situation has become very serious and the doctors are shifting him to the ventilator. With the word ventilation itself, people understood that either he will make it or he’ll pass away. 

We all knew that the survival chances were very less. We were mentally stressed but at the same time, we were preparing ourselves for any bad news. My father was in a critical stage. After putting him on the ventilation in 24 hours he passed away. The next morning we had to inform everyone about the situation. 

My Lifestyle: 

My lifestyle had a drastic change from the day my father was diagnosed with cancer. Many changes happened during and after the treatment. I work in an IT Company. I had to take care of my job and my father at the same time as I cannot take the risk of losing my job. I did not want to be financially weak as well. 

Managing my professional life with my personal life was a task in the beginning. I used to give him baths, feed him, and used to take him for a walk in the morning. Since he got diagnosed, I was focusing only on two things in my life, my work, and taking care of my father. After he passed away in March, I was emotional, my life changed completely, but we all have to move on with our life. 

Journey as a Caregiver:

A caregiver gives care to someone who needs help taking care of themselves. The life of a caregiver is very difficult sometimes. I have been worried, had some second thoughts regarding the treatment which was being given in the hospital to my father. As a caregiver, my lifestyle changed drastically. Although I faced some difficulties, I had full family support with me. They all were very caring and concerning. I even got financial support from my brother and sister when I was facing some downfall in my life. We all three fought it together. 

Obstacles:

My father was treated in a private hospital and private hospitals can be expensive at times. We faced few financial problems but we managed them somehow and moved on with the journey. My whole family supported us in this journey. Me, My elder brother and sister, all came together and supported my father and fought the battle with him. 

Parting Message:

The only parting message I want to give to all the caregivers, survivors, and the people who are going through this battle is to stay motivated. Do not lose hope. Just keep telling yourself even in the worst situation that you can surpass this and become a winner. Staying motivated will help you a lot while going through anything in life as you start believing in the power of positivity.

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