Initially, my mother-in-law was detected with cancer. She passed away and we had started looking at the journey ahead when we found out that my father also had cancer. That's when it struck me how many people would go through this and how big it was.
We had to take my dad to a hospital for some health issues, and while doing multiple tests, we also went for a cancer test. That was how my father got diagnosed with cancer at the age of 78. We were short of information; we didn't know where and what could be done. We had access to the best of the facilities in Mumbai. My dad worked in Indian Oil Corporation.
We started our cancer journey and started reaching out to many people, but no one could guide us on the right path. Everybody talks about the treatment, which is just one part of the journey. We started consulting with our doctor and met a few of our friends who could help us with the cancer journey.
We realized that there was no option but to go for an operation, but we were concerned about how the quality of life for a person who is 78 years old and underwent an operation.
We were given a lot of assurance by the doctors that the operation was the best way forward. We listened to their advice and went ahead with the operation. Fortunately, my dad managed to come out of it.
My dad had a much better life, and we were hoping that he continues to enjoy his life, but again after three months, things started getting difficult for us. He had always been super active. Till the time he had the energy to do his stuffs, his morning walks continued, and he went to the vegetable market; he never stopped doing his daily activities. He was very keen. When his health deteriorated, there were further side effects, and he was completely stuck to the bed, lost his appetite, and had to feed him through the tube.
We provided him with the best medication possible. We could do nothing other than wait for whatever was to happen. We are three brothers, and we have a big family; all of us were taking care of and supporting each other. When I was feeling down, my brother would take care, and that's how the whole cancer journey came along.
During the cancer caregiving journey, I always felt the need for a group I could reach out to, share what I felt, and get to know the things that would help my dad. Probably that would have helped, and this journey would have been much better. Nevertheless, we went through our journey. Though he left for his heavenly abode, his blessings are always with us.
I strongly look forward to being associated with organizations like ZenOnco.io and Love Heals Cancer because I feel that this is the missing link in the entire cancer chain. The lack of information was one of the challenges we had. Fortunately, I had access to support groups in the US and I could write e-mails to them and get support and guidance. One more clear challenge was access to good medical resources, which means people who could take care of him at home. After facing all these situations, I now want to support people as much as I can.
Often, when we realize that someone in our family has fallen ill, we feel that the whole world has fallen, but I want to tell everybody that they are not alone.
What one should do as a caregiver is to try and connect at a very emotional level with patients. Take as much care as you can. Go out and reach out to more people going through similar experiences, and be assured that you are not alone.
My journey as a caregiver gave me a different perspective. Sometimes, just sitting next to the person you love can make you feel very positive. I am a long-distance runner, so I would get-up in the morning and would run. When you run very hard, your body focuses only on the distance to be covered. For that one hour, I would get myself energized so that I can manage my day. So I always say to people to try and get that one passion for diverting that energy for some time during the day so that you can come back even stronger to support your loved ones.