Harsh Rao (Sarcoma): There’s always hope beyond what you see

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Initially, I started developing some minor symptoms, such as constipation and stomach ache. I had some regular medicines and consulted my family doctor for the same, but none of that worked. So, I went through x-rays, sonography and even CT scan. Reports came out to be perfectly fine. Then, in consultation with a cancer specialist surgeon, I was told to get an MRI and Biopsy report. In the biopsy report there seemed to be some cancer cells. And then finally in the PET scan report, it was detected that I had Sarcoma in the prostate region. The whole process of testing and consulting various doctors took almost 3 months time. One month after detection, my chemotherapy started. I was treated by one of the best chemotherapists in my city.

Side Effects and Challenges

The immediate side effect was hair loss. I lost hair two times in eight months of treatment. The second side effect was vomiting and nausea. Apart from that, body ache and weakness lasted up to two to three days after chemo.  During the initial days of chemo as I was wearing braces, my jaws were weak and I couldn’t eat anything or  drink a sip of water. During my second cycle of chemo, I had constipation for five days straight, for which I had to take anaemia and other medications. I’ve been getting chemos for straight eight months and after completing Chemo, I also got radiation therapy for 25 cycles. A PET scan was done after the 10th week of my chemo.  Although the cancer was completely cured, I still had to go through a few more chemos for the next 4 months,so the cancer doesn’t come back again.

It was challenging for me to study, attend lectures and pursue my masters along with the treatment. I used to attend lectures from the hospital as well, because my chemos were eight hours long. I attended the lectures as much as I could and due to  the side effects that came out, I had to drop out from the lectures as well. My college was really supportive. 

I even have my own NGO with a team of  50-60 members. We are currently working on eradication of hunger and providing daily meals to around 200 people. When I was admitted, my friends  took the responsibility and the NGO was working quite well. 

Staying at hospital and home was very challenging for me because feeding meals and working at NGO is my passion, something that I love and cannot live with. Moreover, it is Covid time so I had to take other precautions as well which was challenging.

Support system/Caregiver

My parents and eldest sister are my biggest support system. Initially they were reluctant to accept that I have cancer. It took about one or two months for my family to completely digest the fact that I have cancer. I didn’t even know what exactly chemotherapy meant. But when I went through it, I experienced what it is and what it does to your body. Apart from that, my friends were really supportive throughout the phase of cancer. They used to make me smile, and play indoor games. All these helped me to forget the pain. Throughout the eight months, my family and friends were really supportive, and helped me to recover. 

 Post Cancer and Future Goal 

I earlier had five goals for my NGO, now the sixth goal is a cancer Wellness Centre. I want to help kids below 18 years as it can be  very difficult for them to fight cancer. So I would like to be their counsellor. And if they are economically weak, I would like to raise funds for them as well ,so they could get the best treatment possible.

Some Lessons that I learned 

While going through this difficult phase, you need a strong willpower and happiness. You need to accept the fact that you have cancer and you need to fight it. Having a positive approach is the only way to fight cancer.

Because of cancer, I got a motive to work for cancer patients. There are a lot of people out there who are fighting cancer or who are detected by cancer. I can be a counsellor,  a role model for them and help them out in their tough crisis. In my case, I had my friends and family, but everyone doesn’t have people to support. So in a way, I have a clear idea of what to do in future.l definitely do not want anyone to go through the pain I have been through. But, if anyone comes up to me who has cancer, I can be a very good guide to them. I would like to open a Cancer Wellness Centre to help the kids to deal with such trauma.  

I got to know the real meaning of what  my family and friends mean to me. The journey reveals the true colour of your friends, how good friends you have, and will they stand during your tough times or not. I can be very proud of the friends I have.   

Parting Message

For other patients- Just a few more chemo sessions and everything will be over.You will definitely be cured of cancer and  have a very happy life after. Feel confident and have the strength to fight. I would definitely like to pass on the message that after chemo life will be amazing. God has selected me for this amazing pain and I feel like I am the Ultimate Fighter. I will help others to fight this battle. I want to thank God for giving me this pain and now I can cherish the pain that I have been through.

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